So I was over at HuffPost when I came across a this post asking if this Daria Werbowy editorial was racist. Now I fully admit that I was ready to get all upset, and at first, looking at these images, I was about ready to roll my eyes and mumble about the precious "virtue" of white women in racial images. However, when I looked at the images closer, I found that the the white model just really wasn't eye catching to me in the long term.
I think I knew what they were going for of course. Don't get me wrong. They were absolutely using the black models as props to have the white model stand out, like some jewel in the ruff, but I found that the black models actually made the photos for me. She's not remarkable. I don't even find the white model very attractive (she's no Adriana Lima), although she could be classified as pretty. Her clothing is lovely, but I want to wear what the "props" have on.
She seems uninvited; like she crashed one of the hippest parties in town, after having run away from some lame, boring party in the Hamptons with uptight rich folks. I want to be at this party, as it ultimately seems she wanted to be. She doesn't fit in. She seems terribly demode. The black female models outshine her as their skin is far more conducive to looking attractive while perspiring in a hot ass club. Their head wraps and makeup make them look like regal and strong; sexy and svengali-like.
It sees like most of the patrons in this club scene are not paying attention to her. They are going about their business with the occasional guy who seems to be there to make sure she doesn't get lost, but he also seems like he can't really be bothered.
This is not the first time this has failed. Back in 2007, I wrote about Vogue India's Inaugural issue having two Indian models flanking a white model in the middle. The effects are the same. The model in the middle really didn't have a purpose as she was outshined by the models on either side of her.
I think as I progresss in age, and I get more comfortable in my skin--as we all do as we age--I am not falling into the traps about what beauty should look like or what I, as a black woman, should strive to be. I find that I find all women beautiful, but I will not hold white women to some gold standard because they are women just like me, and they are beautiful just as I am. That's why I'm not even mad at these photos (more are visible at the hyperlink). The message was lost on me because black is just too damned beautiful for me to not notice.