Joan Smalls on the cover of “Vogue Italia” has raised hopes, brows, and questions about when black, will ever truly be “in-fashion,” (or brown, or cinnamon for that matter) aside from the slimming power it wields as a color.
Ms. Smalls is the first model of color to be on a fashion magazine’s cover in four years.
“Vogue Italia” commanded attention in 2008 when it published its all black edition, with a black woman gracing its cover.
But it also did that when it called a pair of earrings, worn in a runway show, “slave earrings.”
This raises chronic, persistent and off-putting questions about what color beauty is. That reminds me of a brief Canadian-produced documentary, “The Colour of Beauty” that was released in 2010.
It addressed questions of bias and bigotry in fashion and beauty, and the American and international psyches that feed from that. A “white girl dipped in chocolate” is how the successful black models are described. They do not have typically African-American features. Of course, most first worlders are so used to seeing and in-turn deeming that light skin, the lightest skin is the height of beauty. That prevails in our culture, and then in the minds of many young women.