Cosmopolitan recently faced controversy after an article they published early this year titled, “21 Beauty Trends that Need to Die in 2015” resurfaced, sparking outrage across social media.
The article used a handful of colored women to represent dead trends, while solely using caucasian women to illustrate acceptable trends for the new year.
Unlike most people who hurled “racist” labels against the magazine as they were filled with outrage, I found myself in deep thought. I took a moment to analyze not only my feelings, but also, the things that I have allowed myself to consume for past few years.
After a moment, I realized that the problem doesn’t just end or even start with Cosmopolitan’s alleged intentions to “undermine” black females. The problem is that there is MORE than just ONE problem. There are a number of unhealthy habits the magazine industry has indulged in over the past decades, and it is time that we confront these habits in order to fix them.
**When I use the term Women of Color, I am referring to African Americans, Asians, Latinas, and anyone who identifies with the term.
5 Magazine “Trends” That Need to Die in 2015
Defining Black Beauty
“Black Beauty,” as often depicted in most magazines, is generally females between the ages of 18-23 who fall under the not-so-subtle color spectrum they’ve established.
The color spectrum is usually various shades of Caucasian, and a very select number, if any, of Asians, Latinas, and African Americans, focusing solely on the extremely light and dark shades.
This habit saddens me, because black beauty cannot possibly be defined as only light skin and dark skin. There are so many beautiful shades of color beyond that, but sadly, continue to go unnoticed.
I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.
IMAGE: THE FASHION SPOT/JIHAN FORBES, 2014
Most fashion and beauty magazines boast, “Our mission is to celebrate all women and diversity.”
Yet even with this mission in tow, magazines still continue to feature women who are often shown in the most unrealistic forms.
I get it. Photoshopping makes products and bodies more visual “appealing,” but every woman— hell, everyone on this planet has flaws– so why not embrace and celebrate them? The more magazines uplift unrealistic perfection and unachievable bodies, the more young women and men manifest the idea that they are simply not good enough.
Glorifying Unhealthy Sizes
As a preteen, I aspired to be a model. Although I didn’t have the privilege of going to many casting calls, I did use the Internet as a resource to aid my dreams of being a model. I submitted myself to many agencies, but I never got a response. Why? Although I had a slim figure, I was not the ideal 110 pounds and 5’8’. Instead, I fell at a mere 5’6’ 125-130lbs.
I wished that I could fulfill that requirement, and a small part of me was willing to do anything to become that. However, as the years rolled on, I was forced to realize that my destiny was different. I was meant to have a curvy body.
But sadly, a lot of young girls cannot accept their bodies and often turn to drastic measures to fulfill this model of perfection supplied by magazines.
It is very rare that afro-textured hair gets featured in the beauty section or even receives a glorious praise from editors. In fact, I’ve never seen an ethnic do feature in a magazine at all. Not even in the fashion section. And as a woman of afro-caribbean descent, who happens to have many relatives rocking ethnic hairdos and even rocked a few herself, it is very difficult for me to understand why braids, dreads, and twist cannot be accepted as trendy or even considered in magazines distributed to millions of women.
Now, there are 7 continents, 196 countries, approximately 7.2 billion people on the planet, and as a result, an unquantifiable amount of races and ethnic groups. All of this combined creates a distinct uniqueness that exists on all levels of humanity, and every woman and man has the right to be represented in the best light, and not according to the dose of melanin in their skin, hair texture, culture, or sexual preferences.
As an influential platform for both women and men of various age groups, ALL magazines have a duty to promote REAL diversity and beauty, and It’s about time they reflect that.