Allure posts "afro tutorial" with a white model
Allure magazine’s spread for their August 2015 “Amazing Hair” special issue is definitely stirring up some ire at the fashion magazine. The hair styling tutorial entitled “You (Yes, You!) Can Have An Afro” has actress Marissa Neitling wearing what Allure calls a “loose afro.”
The “Loose Afro” is part of a larger spread, “Retro Modern”, which showcases 70s-inspired hairstyles, all white women, and absolutely no black models. What’s more is that the magazine glosses over (pun intended) the historical and cultural significance of the afro especially as it pertains to civil rights and respectability politics. Understandably, there’s some backlash.
The fashion industry isn’t particularly known for its diversity or sensitivity, and has come under fire for cultural appropriation before. However, what’s particularly upsetting is that that Allure took what could’ve been a teachable moment with an actual woman of color, and instead continued to enforce largely Eurocentric standards of beauty. For example, the copy for the headline for instance "(Yes, You!)", assumes that the reader is white.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Allure told the company:
The Afro has a rich cultural and aesthetic history. In this story, we show women using different hairstyles as an individual expressions [sic] of style. Using beauty and hair as a form of self-expression is a mirror of what’s happening in our country today. The creativity is limitless—and pretty wonderful.
Since then, Allure has apologized on twitter.
We wanted this to be a celebration of self-expression. We hear your feedback & we'll make sure our future stories reflect all perspectives.— Allure (@Allure_magazine) August 3, 2015
Facts about: Natural hair and cultural appropriation
Zendaya Coleman, a young teen singer, spoke to Nylon about the differences between appreciating a culture and appropriating it. Coleman first came to attention after E! host Giuliana Rancic made racist comments about her hair at the Oscars in February.
Former president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made headlines in June for pretending to be a black woman until her parents outed her as "white."