America's Next Top Model Joins the Blackface Bandwagon

Hey Glamazons,

A Glamazon reader brought to my attention that in last night's episode of America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks painted a white and Asian contestant black for their photo shoot. According to the Huffington Post:

"...in last night's episode, Tyra crossed the fine line from tasteless over to offensive when she put the remaining six contestants in ethnic garb and gave them biracial identities."
Tyra shot these six contestants in a sugarcane field in Hawaii, culturally significant because as she puts it, people traveled from different places to work there and procreated to develop blended races. In reference to the ethnic garb, Tyra explained that the clothes chosen aren't accurate representations of the way certain cultures dress, but merely "a fashion interpretation." Hmm. Does creativity negate the need for historical accuracy? Does it justify cultural insensitivity? Interesting...

Given my and lot of your heated reactions to another "fashion interpretation," the French Vogue Blackface photo shoot, I was sure that Tyra's photo shoot would be met with just as much hostility. Until I read another comment about the fact that Tyra has painted white and black contestants with Asian features for ANTM Cycle 3's shoot in Tokyo. See photos below.

I wonder if Asian, and specifically Japanese, women watching the show felt the same kind of outrage that many of our black readers did...or is this practice specifically hurtful to us given the sensitive history of blackface?

What do you think? Are the images from the ANTM photo shoot as offensive as that from French Vogue? Why or why not? Why was there an outrage among black women (and men) for the French Vogue photoshoot while the Asian population remained largely silent about the ANTM photo shoot? What's the line between art and racism? Does it differ depending on the race being "interpreted"?




Photos: The CW. antmc3.blogspot.com


The Truth About Weave Part II: I'm Never Giving It Up

When it comes to weave, I'm in L-O-V-E. There's nothing that you can do (or say) to convince me otherwise.
Growing up in the tiny town of Marshall, TX, there really wasn't much to do. So, if I wasn't reading or a book or practicing on the piano (yeah, I was a nerd) I was creating new styles for my hair. I didn't have a perm and would get my hair pressed with a hot comb by my mother or grandmother. (Because of this, I've had my scalp and the tips of my ears burned so much that it hardly hurts when any type of heat is directly applied to my scalp. I don't know if that's sad or funny lol). I begged to no avail for a perm, but my mother would just simply say that I didn't need one and promptly ignore me. It seemed (to me) that all the girls with perms could do more with their hair; including adding in weave. Plus, I didn't know how to even add in the weave; because all of the girls that had it would go to the beauty shop. (Another place that my mother never let me go to unless it was a special occasion and even then I was closely monitored.) Needless to say, I learned how to use a curling iron very quickly and would create hair looks that I thought was cool. From curls to crimps, I rocked 'em all. However, I still longed for weave; and not because I wanted the "long Barbie hair like a white girl" but because I wanted to be able to change up my look and hair color. To me, changing up my hair look was like a way of putting on a new costume. One day I could be a sexy pinup girl with long, tousled tresses and the next I could be a vixen with a short pixi cut. Alas, this was all in my dreams. So, I figured that I'd make these transformations once I got to college.
By the time I got to college, the most weave I would wear would be braids. (Simply because I was in the marching band (yeah, I started out as a music major before switching over to journalism) and it was easier to not have to worry about doing my hair). I still didn't have a perm, but I longed for the professional weave that the movie stars were wearing. But, I was even broker than I am now, so it was out of the question for me to spend so much money on weave when I had books to buy and "perfectly fine hair" anyways. (Well, that coming from my family and ex-boyfriend.) So, I kinda let my weave dreams go for awhile.
Then, I moved to NY and it was literally everywhere and I just had to have it! So I did and quickly became obsessed. I would wear it long for a couple of months. Then, rock a cute bob with colored streaks. Oh the possibilities!
Much like Coutura, it's not like I'm unhappy with my own hair. It's just that why bother trying to create these glam looks with my own hair, when I can just add in this hair and look amazing?! Weave doesn't have to be a bad thing and I really think that's it gotten a bad rap for no reason. I don't always wear it (I have a cute, blonde, weaveless bob right now); but I don't see anything wrong with adding in a track or two...(or three or four) as I (or my hairstylist, the amazing Tracy Washington!) sees fit. I'm always down to try new hair looks. From cuts to coloring, I've pretty much done it all. I currently have a cut, color and Brazilian (which I blogged about in previous entry). And there's no way you could be my man and hate on my weave. I will always wear it and (since it's professionally done) you can run your fingers through it and it won't fall out or bite you. I love the freedom it gives me to change up my look and I wouldn't have it any other way. Check out the many looks that I've had over the past couple of years with extensions. As long as it looks dope, who cares?!

Here's my real hair.....

Long and curled...
Long and straight....

Rockin' a bob w/colored pieces.


NEW! Vanessa and Angela Simmons Launch Clothing Line

Angela and Vanessa Simmons are bringing the glitz and glam of the Los Angeles' VIP party scene to your closet. As the Glamazons reported during NYFW, the moguls behind Pastry Kicks are designing a high-end clothing and footwear line via People Magazine. It's only right that Vanessa and Angela, offspring of the family responsible for Baby Phat and Phat Farm, expand their own sneaker brand to clothing and footwear.

Vanessa gave me the scoop about her clothing line and modeled one of her designs at Mary J. Blige's Gucci for FFAWN event. Check out her skirt below:

The Pastry blog also posted a pic of this dress and heels as a peak of what to come. Love the shoes!

"The pieces are just so original and so outside of the box of what anyone is doing," Vanessa shared with People Magazine. If these looks are any indication, the line will indeed be fresh, high-fashion and VIP party-friendly. The sisters plan to launch a series of heels and flats at Macy's this holiday season.

Discuss: do you like the pieces from Pastry VIP? Will you wear it when the collection hits stores?



Photos: Pastrykicks.com


The Truth About Weave Part I

Hey Glamazons!

Ever since Chris Rock called us out in the documentary, "Good Hair," everyone has been discussing why weaves are...well, horrible. Men are complaining that they can't run their fingers through weaved heads without hitting the tracks or "speed bumps," or "choo-choo's" as they call it. Women are applauding celebs like Kandi from Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta for wearing their own hair while side-eyeing her castmate, Nene's weaved haircut.

In fact, on our magazine's website, commenters talked about weaves like they were for bald-headed misfits that secretly hate themselves. Like the natural hair on weave-wearer's heads is so nappy, thin and sparse, the only way we can get out of bed and face the public is if we put some poor Indian woman's hair on our heads. Not true!

On behalf of weave lovers everywhere, Ferocia and I are doing a two-part post breaking down myths about being weave-a-licious---and proving that it's not a bad thing.

-MYTH: Only women with short or no hair wear weaves.

I recently had a weaved bob (see below), took it out last night and wore my real hair to work the following day.

My hair in a (weaved) bob

My real hair after I took the weave out

Everyone---from men to multicultural women---had the same question:

"If your real hair is long and healthy, why do you wear a weave?"


I thought such ignorant concepts about weave disappeared in the 90's, but maybe I'm wrong. No longer are weaves the saving grace for people with no hair.

In my opinion, it's old news that women with flowing beautiful hair down their back (and even white women...hello Khloe Kardashian! (If you don't believe it, watch her segment on Wendy Williams where she talks about putting a bobby pin on her track) are wearing weaves for a number of reasons. Let's name a few:

(1) To try a new color or cut without committing. I wanted to rock the asymmetric bob trend without cutting my real hair and having to suffer through that awkward stage as the hair grows back. I also wanted to energize my look with a sexy new honey blonde color. A weave allowed me to experiment with cut and color...and take it out as soon as I was over it (for me, this is a two week span). Genius! A lot of celebrities---from Rihanna to Mary J. Blige---wear weaves for just that reason.

(2) Some weaves are easier to maintain than real hair. As I prepared to travel to Southern Spain this summer (most amazing trip...ever! btw), I knew I would want to swim in the ocean everyday. Instead of wearing my real hair, which would entail me washing, blow-drying and flat-ironing daily, I wore a weave that could withstand daily trips to the beach.

(3) To add texture and volume to your real hair. Many women just sew in a few tracks of weave (of the same length or shorter) to make their own hair fuller. Run your hands across the scalps of your favorite famous Hollywood starlet and I guarantee you'll find one or two tracks in the center or bottom to give her that glamourous red-carpet volume.

(4) To give your real hair a break. Curling and flat-ironing your real hair takes a tremendous toll. Many women circumvent this by applying heat to style weaves while their real hair remains safe from harm.

Sure, weave has its share of setbacks. For example, sometimes, your scalp just needs to breathe which is why it's good to rock your hair out every couple of months.

Also, sewn-in weaves can cause breakage by tugging at your real hair in cornrows. For this reason, when getting a sewn-in weave, it's important to avoid braiding the hair so tight that the weave pulls at your real hair. My hairstylist even braids synthetic hair into my cornrows so the tracks don't strain my real hair as much.

One complaint that isn't a setback? That men "can't run their fingers through weave." Trust: I wouldn't let you touch my hair, real or weaved, anyway. =)

Discuss: What's your opinion on weaves?




NEW!! Jean Paul Gaultier for Target

Hey Glamazons!

As Ferocia's told you a million times before, we do a lot of squealing in the Fashion & Beauty department. Today's squeal of enthusiasm and unparalleled excitement is brought to you by the latest retail giant/designer collaboration: Jean Paul Gaultier!!! This, glamazons, is a HUGE deal.

Jean Paul Gaultier needs no introduction but here's some brief background info: The French designer's innovative, dramatic designs catapulted him from designing for his mother and grandmother to fashion royalty. Some of his most famous creations include corsets for men in 1997 and the lingerie-over-your-clothes trend which Madonna brought to the mainstream in her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour.

Gaultier often credits the street fashions of the youth in London and New York as the inspiration behind his edgy designs. His muse for the Target collection? "Jean Paul Gaultier for Target pays tribute to the American woman, celebrating the forces of style both past and present in American pop culture," the retailer said.

I'm dying. If Madonna or even Rihanna are the "forces of style" behind these designs, Gaultier will surely deliver a collection that is everything. Here are the deets:

Jean Paul Gaultier for Target will hit 250 Target stores and Target.com on March 7. It will be available through April 11.

Check out some faves from Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 2010 collection below and let me know if you'll be shopping his collection for Target.




Weekend Recap: Black Girls Rock! Awards and NeYo's 30th Birthday Party

Whew..what is it about Mondays? I don't know about everyone else, but they are always the loooonnggeest day of the week for me! I swear that it always feels like I've been here for 24 hours. Sometimes I think about pulling one of those cushioned red benches in the beauty/fashion area into the beauty closet and just spending the night! I mean, I have everything that I need to exist here at the office. (I don't know whether that's funny or sad lol)
But, I did have a stellar weekend! My life gets so crazy and busy that it's easy to forget what else exists outside of my little bubble. However, I received a quick reality check on Saturday night after attending the Fourth Annual Black Girls Rock! Awards. (Ambi was the official skincare sponsor and invited me to be one of their guests...that's me pictured here, seated and waiting for the show to begin....thanks Ambi!) Hosted by actresses Tracee Ellis Ross (who is hilarious!) and Regina King, this was truly an inspiring event. It made me look back at my life and realize that I've done nothing to give back since I've moved here to the Big Apple. With that said, I've now decided to give over my spare time (what little bit that I have) and get more involved with the youth here in the city.
This awards show serves as a fundraising event for the nonprofit youth empowering mentoring organization, Black Girls Rock!, Inc.
Honorees for the night included: Mary J. Blige (received the "Icon" award); Raven Symone (received the "Young, Gifted & Black" award); Dr. Mehret Mandefro (received the "Community Service" award); Naomi Campbell (received the "Fashionista" award); Janelle Monae (received the "Who Got Next?" award); Dr. Sonia Sanchez (received the "Living Legend" award); DJ Spinderella (received the "Jazzy Joyce DJ" award); Iyanla Vanzant (received the "Shot Caller" award); Queen Latifah (received the "Rock Star" award) and Anthony Hamilton (received the "Soul Brother #1" award).
Highlights of the evening included an impromptu free style session from Doug E. Fresh (yes, even after all these years, the man has still got it!); an amazing performance by Melanie Fiona (I'd never heard her sing before and the girl has got a nice voice on her) and an equally awesome performance by Janelle Monae. (I got the chance to interview her during Fashion's Night Out. Her creativity never ceases to amaze me.) I was also astounded by the poet Sonia Sanchez as I remember studying her in one of my African American literature classes from college. She even came up and spoke to me after the event and I gave her a big hug. Just to be in the presence of these great women was an experience that I'll never forget.
After my hours of inspiration, it was time to party. Emil Wilbekin (managing editor at essence.com and former EIC of VIBE magazine...love him to pieces! and did you know that he's an honorary Glamazon?!), Jennifer Cooper (photographer for essence.com) and I all headed over to Cipriani's for NeYo's 30th birthday party. There I met Rihanna's stylist Mariel Haenn, Ryan Leslie and a bevy of other important people in the music industry. The party was chock full of half naked women painted in body glitter and there were ice sculptures abound (even the bar was made of ice!) All in all, a fab night. Check out the pics below!

I was stoked to meet the actress Raven Symone. She's a very cool young lady. Makes me wanna step up my game...I mean, she's only 24 and has already done so much!

Me along with makeup artist AJ Crimson and the beautiful Lyndsay C. (Can you believe she's only 11 years old?! Isn't she gorge?! And she's so sweet..love her.)

Me and the haute celebrity stylist June Ambrose (who, by the way, says she just loves the Glamazons!)

Me and honorary Glamazon Emil Wilbekin (tip, tip, tip, Glamazon, tip, tip tip...)

Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King giving their best Naomi Campbell runway walks. Hilarious!!

Model Naomi Campbell accepting her award. She's so gorge!

Singer Melanie Fiona killed it onstage!

Impromptu performance by Doug E. Fresh!

Members of Black Girls Rock!, Inc. perform during the awards show.

Janelle Monae performing.

Mary J. Blige accepting her award....

And here she is later gracing the red carpet at NeYo's 30th birthday party! The songtress recently had her own red carpet event for FFAWN, the Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now, which she founded with marketing pioneer Steve Stoute. (Coutura attended the event! Read more about it here.)
*Photo from gossiponthis.com

The man of the hour! (NeYo)
*Photo from gossiponthis.com

Ralph Lauren Size 4 Model Fired For Being Too Fat

If sample size is 0-2 and plus-size starts at size 8, size 4 models are out of work. Such was the case for Fillipa Hamilton. The beautiful model found herself out of a job when, she claims, Ralph Lauren fired her for being too fat. (Representatives from Ralph Lauren assert that she was let go for not fulfilling her contract.)

Calling a model "too fat," at size 4 is alarming particularly because at 5'8" and a mere 120 pounds, she's a healthy weight for her body type. But if this episode is any indication, the industry doesn't want you to be healthy, just thin.

Enter Photoshop. A Ralph Lauren Blue Label ad that ran in Japan featured Hamilton photoshopped within an inch of her life. She looks like a completely different species, or a Bobblehead doll. Her head is larger than her hips; her legs resemble that of a 12-year old; her waist is impossibly thin. It looks disturbing, unnatural and unhealthy, and sadly, that's what many girls who view the ad aspire to look like. "I was shocked to see that super skinny girl with my face," Hamilton told the Daily News. "I think they owe American women an apology, a big apology," she went on. "I'm very proud of what I look like, and I think a role model should look healthy."

I agree that no matter one's size, healthiness is key. But it seems many bloggers and critics are using this incident to condemn the industry's use of airbrushing in general. Photoshop has long been one of the magazine industry's not-so-secret secrets. Having worked behind-the-scenes in this business for a few years, I've seen pictures of the most famous, familiar and beautiful people covered by orders in red marker: "even skin out" "remove blotches" "whiten teeth" or "add or remove fullness in the bust (yes, they add breasts altogether. See January Jones' magically increasing bustline on the cover of GQ below)."

Many times the images are altered so much that the subjects are unrecognizable. Or odd retouches are made, like Kim Kardashian's skin being lightened for her Complex Magazine cover spread. I've voiced many times that I think such excessive photoshopping is unnecessary and troubling, though I do see a (slight) need.

There's an increasing pressure to be perfect in an industry where celebrities/models are ripped apart for an ashy knee or back roll (remember what happened to Tyra when her picture at the beach, un-photoshopped, hit the web). In a culture where real people even Photoshop themselves to put pictures on Facebook, can we criticize retouching as a whole? My opinion is that it becomes problematic when a person's likeness is manipulated to the point where he/she is unidentifiable. And it certainly shouldn't be used to perpetuate fashion's unhealthy obsession with thinness. What do you think?




Letter to Karl Lagerfeld: Everyone Loves Curves

Every fashionista has a dream designer and mine is undoubtedly Karl Lagerfeld (who is also my gay husband in my mind). I am the ultimate Chanel feine. I will forget the English language and resort to ooo-ing and aah-ing at the mere sight of a quilted purse or perfectly-tailored tweed jacket. And every collection is even more ladylike and awesomely beautiful than the one before.

So, imagine my reaction after hearing that Karl Lagerfeld attacked German Magazine, Brigitte, for choosing to only publish images of real women. Lagerfeld told Focus Magazine this:

"No one wants to see curvy women. You've got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly."

Yeah, heartbroken. How could someone I admire and respect dismiss me (and my curves) as undesired on the runway and in fashion magazines?

Well, since Karl Lagerfeld is my gay husband in my head (though we've never met), I imagined writing him a letter and mailing it to Paris immediately after hearing the quote to express how it made me feel. This is how it would read:

My darling Karl,

You're quoted in Focus Magazine as saying: "No one wants to see curvy women. You've got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly."

What "curvy women" are you referring to? The women I know are avid fans of Chanel and all things feminine, awe-inspiring and beautiful in fashion. We are your consumers and followers. We drool over your advertisements in magazines, we spend our hard-earned money at your stores. Even more of us dedicate time writing, researching, discussing and studying your work and the fashion industry as a whole. And we DO want to see curvy women in our magazines and on the runway.

We are beautiful, curvy women of all sizes (who might I add exercise regularly and are in good shape!). Whether we're petite or plus by fashion standards, we all have a shape that's more voluptuous than the thin models that walk in runway shows. And our gorgeous, womanly curves aren't the product of chips on the couch either; we credit great genes for it.

We appreciate---and spend a lot of money buying---classic, ladylike fashion like Chanel. You proudly accept our praises and our dollars, yet you dismiss us as unworthy of being represented on your runway.

Even worse, you do a disservice to the women you do choose to represent. Those who aren't naturally thin (who make up the majority) may resort to unhealthy tactics to try to achieve your unattainable standard of beauty.

As someone who went from ballet school to the fashion industry, I've witnessed firsthand the dangerous extent some women will go to in order to fit the mold you're creating. I am close friends with women who overcame battles with anorexia and bulimia.

I have to assume that you've never witnessed the effects of these conditions or you wouldn't say something so irresponsible. I don't have that luxury. I've watched my friend's health deteriorate---to the point of fainting---knowing that it was of her own doing. I've felt helpless trying to save her because the more sickly, frail and thin she became, the more she felt beautiful, according to your standards. And when the body weakens, teeth rot, bones protrude and skin ages from an eating disorder, it's not beautiful, it's scary.

It perplexes me that a man who is such a visionary and creative force in the fashion industry could be so close-minded when it comes to body image. Well, here are two things you need to know:

(1) A "fat" woman eating chips on the couch is just as unhealthy as a thin woman who forces herself not to eat or vomits after every meal.

(2) Curvy does not mean obese. There are many of us with gorgeous, enviable, natural curves who are healthy (you may have seen a few: Beyonce Knowles, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson, Beth Ditto, Salma Hayek, Queen Latifah, Lily Allen, Scarlett Johansson). We are as beautiful and sexy as anyone else---and EVERYONE wants to see US on the runway.


Curvy and fabulous,


Sound off: What do you think of Karl Lagerfeld's comments? Do you agree that no one wants to see curvy women? Are magazines and runways that celebrate curvy women supporting obesity and unhealthy body types? Do you think there's a link between Karl's standard of beauty and anorexia and bulimia? Have you ever felt pressure to be thin to be considered beautiful? Do you think events like Full-Figured Fashion Week are helping to change the fashion industry's obsession with thin models? Will it ever change? Discuss.

Photos: Rex Features; Getty Images.


Kanye West's Clothing Line Closes

"Hermes, Pastelle, I pass the dressing..." Remember that line? Kanye West spit that memorable verse on T.I.'s "Swagger Like Us" in anticipation of his clothing company, Pastelle. Months later, his swagger is still intact (barely); however, his clothing line has taken a turn for the worse.

Yes, the bad news keeps coming for Kanye West, who notoriously interrupted Taylor Swift's moment to shine at the 2009 MTV VMA awards---and then shrugged off his offense against pop lovers and little teenage girls everywhere (btw, I got to see it in person from the stage pit; it was like watching a train wreck). Now as Taylor is beginning a stint hosting SNL, West is dropping out of his highly-anticipated Fame tour with Lady Gaga (who is, btw, clearly Glamazon of the Year) and closing the door on his highly-anticipated fashion line, Pastelle.

While Kanye West's flair for the dramatic and taste in women (the trend-setting Amber Rose and the lovely Ghita designer Alexis Phifer) certainly lends itself toward a career in fashion, the history behind his clothing line reads like...well, another train wreck. See below:

Pastelle was launching in Spring 2006, but Kanye couldn't find suitable business partners. Pastelle was coordinating with Ksubi (Australian fashion label) on an eyewear line, but nothing was ever produced. Pastelle was launching a clothing store in Chicago in 2009, but the franchise never opened.

Well, we'll always have scenes from his video "Good Life" (where the clothes were featured) and these pictures below...

Sound off: would you have bought clothes from Pastelle? Are you sad to see it go (before it even started)? What's the deal with Kanye? Why does bad news seem to follow him?



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