Emily Bador is a white woman. She is not, therefore, a black woman. Normally, that wouldn’t be news worth reporting, mostly because it isn’t news.
But her race came into play recently because of the new cover of Blackhair magazine, a British glossy that bills itself as “an internatio
The magazine, which generally if not always features black or mixed-race models, used her photograph for the cover of its December/January issue. The editors have admitted they didn’t know she was white.
Prominently on the glossy cover was Bador.
Bador’s hair, as pictured below, is naturally straight.
But on the cover, it’s curly, in a style traditionally associated with black women.
In an Instagram post that has been liked more than 2,000 times, Bador said the photograph was several years old, and she never planned for it to be used on the cover of Blackhair. Furthermore, had she known, she wouldn’t have allowed it.
She stated embarrassment at the photo, which she said was a form of cultural appropriation — which refers to adopting elements of another’s culture, generally to one’s benefit.
I would deeply and sincerely like to apologise to every one for this, and black women especially. I would like to clarify, I believe this shoot is from when I was around 15 and didn't understand cultural appropriation or the impact it has on POC. I was uneducated, which obviously is no excuse, ignorant and immature. Growing up in a very very white city, I had no idea the struggles black women face and how often they were persecuted for their hair. I didn't understand how black women are constantly told their natural hair is inappropriate/unprofessional for the work place, or how young girls are told they can't go to school with natural hair. I didn't understand that shoots like this support the very Eurocentric beauty standard that the mainstream media focus on which reinforce the idea that black features are only ok on white women. I didn't understand that as a white passing woman I'd be praised for this hair, but if I was a black woman I'd be persecuted. I didn't understand cultural appropriation. ✨ I do regret doing this. I hold up my hands, I'm so so so sorry and I'm very sorry this cover was taken away from a black woman. This image is (I think, although I'm not 100% sure) about 3/4 years old, it was never intended to be on the cover of this magazine. If I had known it was going to be published, I would never have condoned it. I'm upset and angry I was never asked by the photographer/hair salon/anyone if this image could be used for the cover Black Hair. ✨ I'm so glad I've educated myself and surrounded my self with people to teach me what is right and wrong. I constantly am learning and becoming more and more informed. It's important to come forward and be honest with ourselves about our past mistakes, otherwise we will never learn. Again, I'm truly, deeply sorry to anyone I've offended and I hope if nothing else this post can educated others so they don't make similar mistakes. (also please let me know if I've said anything wrong or offensive in this post!!! or anything i can add!!!! i love u all sm and the last thing i want to do is offend or hurt any one, i really hope you don't all think im a massive twat 😔)
“This image is (I think, although I’m not 100% sure) about 3/4 years old, it was never intended to be on the cover of this magazine,” she wrote. “If I had known it was going to be published, I would never have condoned it. I’m upset and angry I was never asked by the photographer/hair salon/anyone if this image could be used for the cover Black Hair.”
She apologized for any cultural appropriation of which she might be guilty, claiming she was around 15 years old at the time of this particular shoot and “didn’t understand cultural appropriation or the impact it has on POC.”
Growing up in a very very white city, I had no idea the struggles black women face and how often they were persecuted for their hair. I didn’t understand how black women are constantly told their natural hair is inappropriate/unprofessional for the work place, or how young girls are told they can’t go to school with natural hair. I didn’t understand that shoots like this support the very Eurocentric beauty standard that the mainstream media focus on which reinforce the idea that black features are only ok on white women. I didn’t understand that as a white passing woman I’d be praised for this hair, but if I was a black woman I’d be persecuted.
According to Blackhair’s editor, Keysha Davis, who wrote a note on the magazine’s Facebook page, the publication runs photographs they receive from PR companies and salons. They specifically request that these photographs be of black or mixed-race women.
Davis wrote that the magazine staff didn’t know Bador was not black or mixed-race.
“This morning it was brought to our attention that the model gracing our December/January issue is not of black or mixed-race heritage,” Davis wrote. “We were obviously not aware of this prior to selecting the image. We often ask PR companies/salons to submit images for the magazine, specifically stating that models must be Black or mixed race. We can only take their word for it, and of course, try to use our own judgment.”
Her post continued, “We are keenly aware of how black women are underrepresented in the mainstream media and the last thing we want to do is add to our erasure.”
Finally, Davis thanked Badar for noticing the cover and speaking up.
For the most part, fans of both Bador and the magazine seemed pleased with the quick response.
— Black Spice (@MissFBlackSpice) November 23, 2016
— Laura Kelly Dunlop (@laurakaykelly) November 22, 2016
Though some, particularly on Facebook, have demanded the magazine change the cover, thus far the editor has not responded to these requests.
The debate over racial diversity both on the cover and inside the pages of magazines — particularly fashion and beauty magazines — has been a long ongoing one.
When Jezebel wrote in June, “Women’s magazines, like the print business overall, have a notoriously poor history of foregrounding people of color, whether inside their pages, as subjects of their features, or of course, on their covers. Progress creeps along at the most marginal pace,” it was far from the first publication to address the issue.”
In 2013, the New York Times ran a lengthy feature titled “Fashion’s Blind Spot,” which referred to women of color. And five years before that, Vogue published a piece titled, “Is Fashion Racist?”
The answer, according to many, was a resounding “yes.”
The industry appears to be addressing these issues, but slowly.
At the close of 2015, Fashionista reported, “cover diversity on the major U.S. publications was almost exactly the same this year as last year.”
The site’s analysis found that, “in 2014, 27 of 137 covers featured models of color* while in 2015, 27 of 136 did. That’s an improvement from 19.7 percent to 19.8 percent.”
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