Tag Archives: Magazines

We Have a Problem: 7 Year Old Girl Sent Home by Racist School Policy

Two months ago 7 year old Tiana Parker was sent home from school because her hair cut was considered “distracting.” What was her haircut? Thin dreadlocks tied back in a bow. The Oklahoma public school that sent her home has a policy that says “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Really? Could they be any more blatantly racist? Afros are the natural style of many black women’s hair and you want to imply it’s distracting?

MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry decided to take up the cause on her show, especially after derogatory comments about black hair were made by “The Talk” co-host Sheryl Underwood (a black female herself) earlier in the week. Melissa addresses her segment to young Tiana, affirming that the little girl has nothing to be ashamed of – that her hair is not distracting but an homage to black heritage. Melissa names off several influential black artists and musicians who have also rocked dreadlocks – from Bob Marley to Whoopi Goldberg and more recently Willow Smith. She applauds Tiana’s parents for withdrawing her from that school and placing her somewhere where her natural beauty – her black beauty – is embraced. We applaud them as well.

This issue hits particularly close to home. As a child of interracial marriage (my dad is black, my mom white) my hair was often an issue of contention. I was born with a full head of it. My mother’s family has thick hair, especially for Anglicans, which combined with the kinky curls of my dad’s DNA lead to this:

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That’s me on the left, age 4. Diana Ross ain’t got nothing on this, y’all.

It only got thicker and more out of control from there. I was 15 before we decided to try relaxing my hair. I grew up in the south so having my white mom take me to a black hair salon to get a perm was always a level of complicated that would take a text book to explain. It cost $150 and took three and a half hours (did I mention my hair is really thick?) of me sitting in a chair with my scalp feeling like it was literally on fire. That painful tingle was the feeling of some magical concoction burning the ethnicity out of my hair. That went on once every 3-6 months for 7 years.

Why? Because I never felt pretty with my hair natural. I often make the comparison that my hair without a straightener looks like someone shoved my fingers into an electrical socket. All of the popular girls at school at stick straight shiny hair that they could wear down any time they liked. All the lead characters on my favorite tv shows were the same way – even the black characters had their hair shiny and straight instead of natural. All the weather has to do is think about drizzling and my hair becomes a seeing hazard for anyone walking behind me. Like Tiana’s school is trying to preach – I felt like I was a distraction.  Even now I prefer my hair straight over curly (though to be honest, that also has a lot to do with the fact it’s cooler temperature wise if it’s not all bunched up on my head).

It’s because the message given to Tiana, and all other little girls attending that school, isn’t a new one. For generations little black girls, and minorities all over, have been under pressure to “white-ify” themselves to fit the beauty ideals we are bombarded with on a daily basis. From simple hair treatments like relaxers and extensions to the extreme of skin bleaching treatments. It’s often insidious – the fact we see so few black females rocking natural hairstyles in mainstream media. It’s a subliminal campaign. But this – Tiana’s case? There’s nothing undercover about it. We are telling girls in primary school that their natural beauty isn’t good enough, that it’s a distraction, that it’s ugly. And that’s a problem.

So take a second before you put on your make-up today. Look in the mirror, just look, before you style your hair. Tiana Parker isn’t a distraction. She’s beautiful. So are you, right now – naked and natural and flawless. Own that. You have to because there are a generation of girls growing up who are being told differently and we have to show them the truth. That job starts with us. Let’s do better than this.

VOD: Why Ideal Beauty is Photoshopped

Good Morning America showed this viral ad of a model being photoshopped a few days ago. The time lapse clip lasts a little over 30 seconds but you can see how one model is completely transformed for whatever campaign they plan to use the image for. It’s not just that her blemishes are touched up or maybe they add a bit of bronzer to her skin. Her eyes are widened, hair lengthened, legs and neck are extended – basically her entire body is re-done. It almost begs the question of why have a model there in the first place? It almost seems cheaper to CGI what they want.

The deeper message here is that we often hold these magazines and ads up as the epitome of beauty that we are supposed to replicate – but it’s impossible. Even the models that pose for the picture don’t meet these standards. So the real question is: why do we let images like these dictate what we think of ourselves? Let’s stop that.

What do you think of the video? Let us know in the comments below! 

Dustin Hoffman Breaks Into Tears Discussing Society’s Pressures on Women

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 10.22.16 AMThe notion of ‘beauty’ in our culture tends to be more limiting and shame-inducing than cathartic. What should be a soul-expanding experience of aesthetic pleasure gets confined to a manufactured pill box, forced down our throats by television, magazines, advertisements, the porn industry – you name it. We all suffer from this together as a society, but women, most of all, bear the brunt of the abuse.

In preparing to make the 1982 film Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman was determined to look as much like a woman as possible. If the audience had to suspend disbelief to follow the story, Hoffman explains in an interview with AFI, then it wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t until he looked at himself in the mirror, fully costumed as a female, that he realized the reality women live with every day. If Hoffman saw his female self at a party, he confesses, he wouldn’t give her the time of day. The realization brings him to tears. Take a look:

This might seem overly tidy. “Hey, Dustin Hoffman, try being a real woman for even a day and you’ll experience some truly gnarly things. And before you whine about not making an attractive woman, let’s think about what beauty really is.”

But his emotional response is more nuanced than that. Hoffman bemoans the socialized notions of beauty that kept him from approaching women who might have otherwise added to his life with wit, intellect, and grace. How many women, he wonders, did he miss the opportunity of knowing, just out of prejudice?

The question we would add to that is: Why do we as a society continue to let anything but our own hearts dictate what we find beautiful?

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Khloe Kardashian Claims to Have Lost 20 lbs in 20 Days

Khloe Kardashian has proclaimed that she lost 20 lbs in 20 days on a magazine cover this week.

Generally, the youngest Kardashian sister is applauded for maintaining a healthy body image. I personally liked when she snapped back at her mom for criticizing her weight (props to you Khlo!). She definitely isn’t fat — she’s just perceived as so much bigger than her itty-bitty sisters. That’s got to be hard. She’s so much taller and bigger-boned than them, that even if she had the same BMI, she would still look a lot larger.

Fast forward to now, Khloe claiming to the world to be super skinny with her new weight loss. Yay for Khlo? No so much.

When I read that someone claims to have lost so much weight in such a small window of time, their reputation as a celebrity with a positive body image, in my mind, goes out the window.

No one should aspire to lose 20 lbs in 20 days. I’m not a doctor, but I would imagine without the help of the feeding tube diet or downright anorexia – this would be impossible.

Our culture demands immediate results. If you aren’t losing a pound a day, like Khloe claims to have, you are perceived as doing something wrong. You’re eating too much, not putting enough much time in the gym. Losing weight slowly is not an accomplishment, even though it’s healthy.

Sure it can be frustrating after a few super-healthy days, coupled with intense workouts, not to see results. It’s this lack of immediate results that makes many give up on their healthy goals and turn to a bag of chips.

And it certainly isn’t inspiring to look at the scale, not see results after your hard work, and then look at Khloe Kardashian purporting to have dropped so much weight in just under 3 weeks.

The Kardashian Family has done plenty of things that I personally think are in bad taste (and I’m sure many would agree with me). I don’t agree with Kim making a sex tape or having such an elaborate wedding with someone she was so clearly poorly matched with. And say what you want about Khloe and Lamar’s marriage today, I don’t agree with marrying someone you’ve known a month.

But those decisions affect only their family and a select few close to them. Posing on the cover of a magazine with these weight loss claims has the ability to make an impact on so many other people — possibly leading them to poor self-esteem and potentially even an eating disorder.

You’re not going to lose 20 lbs in 20 days. Instead, you should forget about Khloe’s goals and work on having more than 20 days of healthy eating and effective workouts.

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