Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zahara, French Vogue, & the Controversial World of Black Beauty

Hey ladies,
So, there's a bunch of interesting stuff happening in the world of black beauty. Did you guys read Newsweek's editorial on Zahara's 'do, "Zahara Jolie-Pitt and the Politics of Uncombed Hair?" The writer is furious with Angelina for letting Zahara leave the house with "unstyled" hair. Very interesting. Even more interesting is genius beauty blogger Afrobella's retort on AOL Black Voices, "I'm on Team Zahara!" Okay, so I'm dying to hear what my SYB Babes think of the ZaharaGate. Do you approve of her let-it-all-hang-out locks, or do you think she could benefit from a couple barrettes and a deep conditioner? And is it appropriate for us to even be analyzing an innocent first grader's hair?

And hot on the heels of that supremely weird Australian blackface moment with Harry Connick Jr., we've got French Vogue's "Supermodel" issue, featuring a spread with Dutch model Lara Stone in blackface. Yep, full-on blackface. Um, instead of painting Lara brown, why couldn't French Vogue editrix Carine Roitfeld have hired Jourdan or Chanel or Arlenis? Oh, and FYI, not a single black, Asian or Latina model was included in the issue. I know it's France, and they have a totally different history than Americans, but this is so not okay. See, this is when I start to chafe at the notion that because Obama is president, we somehow live in a "post-racial" world. Nope, we don't. Ladies, I'd love your thoughts on this spread. Hit me.


Anonymous Nicole said...

She could have sprayed her NATURAL hair with some leave in conditioner, picked it out and slapped a headband or something on that baby's hair. I don't agree with the way the article was written but I was taken aback by the photo when I saw it. She does NOT have to have a perm or a hot comb for her hair to be presentable. I feel that way about ALL kids. I don't like to see little non-black girls with their hair going every which a way either. There's no excuse for it. Angelina always looks appropriate for pics and she knows her children MAY be photographed as well. That is a pic that lil Zahara may look back on like "Mom you were dead wrong for that!" ....

About the blackface?? No words...

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, her hair doesn't look that bad in that picture. It's free flowing and curly...I'd have to feel it, but it looks like someone is taking care of it.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous hiphopmuse said...

I think little Zahara deserves to look as nice and presentable as her mother. I don't think she needs a perm or a hot comb, just a comb, brush, some hair oil and a few pigtails. It's not that difficult.

The blackface thing just shows that society hasn't progressed as much as we thought.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I read an article covering Brad Pitt a while back and they do use natural products on Zahara's hair. Actually, they use Carol's Daughter on her. I love their products. I just think a few pig-tails is all that is needed to spruce her up.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Moni said...

Her hair looks like a kid's version of the same TWA (teeny weeny afro) that many women sport when they first go natural. It doesn't look dry or uncared for. It has a healthy sheen to it and if it was uncared for it would be matted and full of knots. It's obvious that Brad and Angie take care of it (or get someone else to do it). Brad has even mentioned that they use Carol's Daughter products. Just because her hair isn't in the typical braids or plaits doesn't mean that it isn't cared for.

And we ALL need to throw out the idea that hair should be oiled every day. Oil doesn't provide moisture, water (and water based products) does. Oil should only be used to seal in moisture after you've applied it. The author of the article who spent so much time trying to tell Angie how to take care of kids hair could probably use some advice herself.

1:49 PM  
Blogger glamazini said...


2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Miss Z's hair looks healthy which is of the upmost importance. I think this looks cuter that when I see children being attacked by 50 bows perched percariously on their little heads. Miss Z seems like a little lady and I'm sure it is only a matter of time before she asks for a headband or clip.

On the blackface, I have found that Europeans in particular try to seem like they have somehow evolved past race in a way that Americans have not. Their insensitivity/ignorance of the complexities of race never cease to amaze me.


3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Miss Z's hair looks healthy which is of the upmost importance. I think this looks cuter that when I see children being attacked by 50 bows perched percariously on their little heads. Miss Z seems like a little lady and I'm sure it is only a matter of time before she asks for a headband or clip.

On the blackface, I have found that Europeans in particular try to seem like they have somehow evolved past race in a way that Americans have not. Their insensitivity/ignorance of the complexities of race never cease to amaze me.


3:05 PM  
Anonymous Crystal said...

I concur with everything Moni stated about Zahara's hair. Plus, I have seen worse walking the streets of Harlem.

I usually am a lurker on this site; but after reading the link to the Newsweek article I couldn't keep silent any longer.

This quote: "Hair that is nice, neat, and cared for also gives African-American girls the confidence that they can fit into the world at large without being seen as completely different," really really irked me.

The author needs to listen to India.Arie's "I am not my hair" before making a statement like that again!

As for the blackface; sadly I am not surprised. Boo and Hiss!

7:00 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I think Zahara looks okay. However a little oil sheen wouldn't hurt. As far as French Vogue, SO inappropriate. They its better to put a white woman in Blackface rather than use an actual Black woman. This does not pass for art. Not feeling it.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think her hair looks fine. In fact I prefer that they leave it natural rather than do what so many women do to their daughters, yanking the hair into a million little ponytails which does nothing but start stressing her edges and making her hairline move farther and farther back.

As far as the blackface is concerned. I think it says a lot about how far this world still has to go. I don't even understand why putting a white woman in blackface would be preferable to just hiring a black woman. Well, actually I guess I just said it, she's white.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Kim Anderson (Ms. Kim) said...

A headband would be a cute and tamed touch...but by the same account there are some women (myself included) who actually weaved it up just to get my hair big, curly, and yes, messy. And I payed good money for it and loved it, and dare I say looked very very cute in my unkempt style. My Mom said it looked like a 'Lamb's A$$' but hey...potato, po-tah-toe...she's a kid let her live. I'm not even entertaining the blackface...I'm from the South and I don't even know where to begin.

Love your blog Tia!

X's and O's

10:39 PM  
Blogger Behind Motor Mouth said...

This is an issue that I have some internal conflicts. First, I love the idea of this little girl being free with her hair. On the other hand, I also feel there should be some type of attempt to do something with her hair. It doesn't have to be barrettes and ponytails but something to make it seem that they have made an effort. With that, I guess my main problem is that it seems as if the parents have done that.

I don't like blackface. Overall, I wish we could find a way to turn all this attention to more of our favor. Not the Australian game show incident but in the fashion industry.

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will people start to see that NATURAL African hair in its NATURAL state is beautiful?? Why does the writer think that wearing your hair in an afro is a "hot mess" and that in order to show pride in yourself you have to do something to your hair?

5:40 AM  
Blogger Asha said...

I completely agree with Afrobella on this one...I am with TEAM Zahara! I love that Angelina lets her children just 'be'. Besides, we are just seeing snippets of her kids on playdates or running errands...who is to stay baby Z isn't rocking the classic two-strand twist with ribbons for other events? And even if she isn't...who cares? It is just hair, is what I say. That child is gorgeous and we want her confidence to bloom irrespective of her hairstyle, right? Ok.

As for the French Vogue issue. I. Just. Can't...

9:23 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

In response to the Jolie-Zahara absurdity: it should be obvious that Jolie is not a mother who will try to enforce ridiculous social norms on her young children. And by ridiculous I mean that this beautiful little girl should have to 'tame' her gorgeous natural hair. At 4? Is it that serious? And to say that "she knows her daughter will have her picture taken." Of course she knows that! My point is that she allows her children, like herself, to brush off norms that are of no added benefit so you'll see Z wearing her hair natural, just like you'll see Shiloh wearing ties and Maddox wearing a mohawk - most importantly, you'll see there all happy and together.

As far as the French Vogue editorial, c'mon, they knew what they were playing with. I don't think they were trying to be hurtful but rather produce a powerful image. They did both.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So off topic, but I thought the SYB girls would want to know. Vaseline Cocoa Butter Gel is on sale at Target this week - a 2pack is only $10!!


11:27 AM  
Blogger 1Fashionista said...

I disagree with Patrice Grell Yursik’s Black Voices article. I think that’s the problem with adopting kids of another race and/or having kid mixed race kids – you wind up with parents or a spouse who has NO clue about the culture or traditions of their partner. In the state where I live, I constantly see white women with mixed raced kids and their children’s hair looks a HOT MESS!! It frustrates the hell out of me. It’s like she either doesn’t want to admit/acknowledge that her kids are mixed, or she’s just simply clueless and over whelmed with the situation. If that’s the case, she should have thought about what she was getting into when she started dating a man of another race. I also wonder where’s the father? Why isn’t he helping his wife and kids? Surely he doesn’t want his kids running around town looking like freed slaves!!! In either case – it’s just plain unacceptable. Kids want and need to feel accepted. Parents with mixed race kids or kids from another race, need to take the time and learn the “do’s and don’ts.” They need to go to the beauty salons, read the magazines, ask their co-workers/neighbors. Ultimately – they need to get involved. This whole idea that the Jolie-Pitt kids are living this adventurous, cosmopolitan privileged lifestyle is a cop-out. There's no excuse why Angelina or Brad don't take the time to make Zahara’s hair look nice. Supposedly the nannies for the kids are from their respective countries, so why can't they have hairstylists that know about caring for that particular type of hair? I'm sure it's NOT for a lack of money or time. Regardless if parents decide to keep their children’s hair natural or press it – their hair needs to be done!!

6:24 PM  
Blogger A*E* said...

I think it's refreshing to see a little black girl wear her natural hair in all its glory as opposed to a 3-year-old thinking that black girls are "supposed" to get relaxers like the little girl in Good Hair. Zahara and her hair are beautiful.

French Vogue - FAIL.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous tabitha said...

Sigh. This has not been a good week. I made the mistake of reading the comments about the Oscar Grant thing on a post (they weren't exactly progressive), then the whole Louisiana interracial marriage license thing. Back to topic! I agree with Angie and Brad not requiring straight hair of their 4 year old. I mean-she's 4. Ridiculous!

Of course I'm offended by the blackface thing, but I'm hardly surprised.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Nerd Girl said...

I think the child's hair is beautiful. It looks healthy and well cared for. Far too many people - of all races - seem to think that black hair is something that has to be "tamed" in order to be "presentable." That if it is not straighted then it should "at least" be confined. Sheer madness IMHO. Black hair? For the most part is does go every which way - and no excuse is needed for it - that's the way God intended it to be. And yes, I do wear my hair natural, but I have no problem with people who choose not to. Variety is indeed the spice of life.

I've got a 5 year old daughter with a beautiful head of hair. Sometimes she wears it out, usually it is twisted, sometimes I have it braided, and occasionally I run a flat iron through it. It is my hope that she will recognize her natural, innate beauty and celebrate that her hair is beautiful enough and versatile enough to be worn in any number of styles. I feel sorry for people who are consumed with how a small child - or adult - wears her hair. Really? You've got nothing more pressing or important to concern yourself with?

French Vogue? Boo!

11:13 AM  
Blogger Kiki said...

Also, off-topic, but very important:
Tia, do you have any picks this year for cold weather hats that won't 'wreck or ravage' my relaxed hair?

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The photographer for French Vogue was American. Why didn't he walk away like Harry Connick Jr.? Also, if people criticize their own children like they do Zahara--then get ready to raise some insecure human beings.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Saffron said...

actually i kind of like the french vogue spread. it just goes to show that there is a major flaw in the western hemisphere's conception of beauty..i think if anything this image shows that black skin is just as beautiful if not more beautiful and stricking than white skin. lol.I personally think she looks better black! I think it would have been more offensive if this model's face was painted black and her lips painted bright red - reminiscent of black minstral characters or "golliwags" and if her poses were more cartoony and bojanglesesque( ie. laughing and dancing and looking silly)instead her stance in these photos speak to something else..this depiction of a black person does not offend me as did that which was shown on that australian tv show.

5:41 PM  
Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

I don't see anything wrong with Zahara's hair. It is shiny and not matted at all. Looks like it's been washed, conditioned and combed through.
It is a curly afro. What is wrong with that?

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Bronzi said...

I thought Zahara's hair looked healthy as well.Of course, people complain about how Mahlia Obama wears her hair in twists at times.

We all know that us women of color have issues with our hair and I hope I live long enough to see that recede to the bottom of our list of issues as a people. I don't see anyone complaining about how Heidi Klum and Seal caring for the hair of their boys and trust me, it looks as wild at times as Zahara, but never messy. I've never seen Zahara's hair look messy. Maybe just a little windblown at times.

BTW: I saw that article also where Brad Pitt mentioned that they used Carol's Daughters products on Z's hair. Next people complained about him mentioning that. There's no way these people can win.

My final comment is that I have some friends whose mother had a finer and straighter grade of hair and didn't need relaxers. These women didn't know what to do with their daughters hair when it came out "au naturel". My friends said there were many painful hair days since their mothers couldn't relate. I also have a friend whose daughters don't have the same grade of the women in her family where all she has to do is blow dry her hair if she wants it straight. Otherwise it's curly. Needless to say, she's in a quandry over the relaxer thing for her girls since its a slippery slope and she wants them to have options and decide for themselves.

As long as Z looks healthy and happy and she does, lets just let her be a 4 years old girl that sometimes rocks smaller versions of the designer bags her Mom wears.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous couture nerd said...

Surely given the self described sophistication and worldliness of the French, the editors of the magazine are aware of the history of using black face in entertainment, particularly minstrel shows. The history of the French regarding race is not so different from that of America that they can claim ignorance of the reference of black face. Furthermore, Europeans consumed that type of entertainment just as Americans had. If it true that there was not a black model in the mag then their callousness is all the more apparent.

Zahara's hair looks healthy, moisturized, free, and beautiful. It does NOT look unkempt and it does NOT need to be regimented in plaits or with a hot comb or be accessorized with barrettes to be beautiful. I have one word for the critics of her hair: evolve.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Normally I just lurk on this site, but I had to weigh in on this debate.

I am a bi-racial woman, with a caucasian mother, who struggled everyday of my childhood with my hair. There were ponytails, braids, banana curls, dominican blow-outs, and more that a few incidents where I think I actually was attacked by bows. My mother spent hours making sure that my hair was "neat", and that I looked well cared for.

The most vivid memories I have of that time are the braid induced migrains from my "neat" "well-cared" for hair. My hair has been natural now for 3 years, and I wish that people would stop refering to natural hair as frizzy, or unkept.

I applaud Anglina Jolie for not sentencing her daughter to painful tight-braid/blowout purgatory. Zahara's hair is clean, soft, and free, and that is how it should be. Newsweek should have better things to write about than a 4-year old's hair.

11:58 PM  

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