The Aftermath of the Glamour Magazine Ethinic Hair Scandal

I wrote about the comments made by Glamour Magazine employee, Ashley Baker, months ago when this story broke.

Newsday is reporting (click here for the full article) that Glamour magazine still is trying to put to bed an ugly matter that erupted five months ago when a staffer made racially insensitive comments about the appropriateness of black women’s hairstyles in the workplace.

Tuesday Nov 27th, the magazine will hosted “Women, Race & Beauty,” a panel that explored the culture of beauty, with an emphasis on ethnic hairstyles in corporate America. About a hundred people, including selected readers who wrote in about the incident, were slated to attend. The event was not open to the public, but the magazine will write about it for an upcoming issue, said Samantha Rosenthal, a Glamour spokeswoman.

“It was important to open up a dialogue on personal issues related to women, race and beauty,” said Rosenthal.

“We wanted to do something to address the issue raised by the incident.”

The incident that Rosenthal is talking about involves Ashley Baker, a white associate editor at Glamour, who touched off a firestorm last summer when she told a roomful of female attorneys at law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Manhattan that Afro-styled hairdos and dreadlocks are Glamour “don’t’s.”

“‘No offense,’ she sniffed, but those ‘political hairstyles really have to go,'” reported American Lawyer magazine, which broke the story.

After Don Imus’ “nappy-headed hos” comment about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team in April, the remarks were shockingly hard to believe; some actually thought them a joke.

Glamour received hundreds of letters from angry readers, Rosenthal said. Editor in chief Cindy Leive posted an apology on the magazine’s Web site. Baker resigned shortly after.

Still, the anger over her comments continued to foment, prompting Glamour to assemble tomorrow’s panel in the Conde Nast auditorium in Manhattan, moderated by Farai Chideya, host of “News & Notes” at National Public Radio. Panelists include Essence magazine’s executive editor, Vanessa Bush; Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, which creates natural haircare and beauty products for black women; Jami Floyd, news anchor and legal analyst for Court TV; Daisy Hernandez, managing editor of ColorLines, a magazine on race and politics; celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal, as well as professors Venus Opal Reese, who teaches aesthetic studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Barbara Trepagnier, who teaches sociology at Texas State University.

Baker declined to comment for this article, but she did send Newsday an e-mail:

“The so-called facts in this story have been misrepresented and sensationalized since the onset, and the media has already vilified me for opinions I do not have and statements I did not make.”

“Black hair is sensitive,” said Anna Holmes, who is biracial and the managing editor of Jezebel, a celebrity, sex and fashion blog for women, who followed the Baker story closely. “What Baker said was inappropriate, but was she inaccurate? No. She hit a nerve … society is uncomfortable with ethnic hair, and it is uncomfortable about race. And it’s tough talking about all of it because emotion gets in the way.”

An undertone that natural hair is unacceptable, unprofessional and even ugly continues to exist in society.

Image experts, both black and white, subtly advise black women to remove their braids, dreadlocks or other ethnic hairdos before interviewing at corporate jobs, experts confide. A scan of major black magazines, among them Ebony, Essence and Black Enterprise, shows that, despite burgeoning pride in ethnic hairstyles, many black women — especially those in high-ranking positions — continue to chemically straighten their hair.


Filed under african american, assimulation, black, black women, business, culture, fashion, law, news, race, women

4 Responses to The Aftermath of the Glamour Magazine Ethinic Hair Scandal

  1. Kristie

    I decided earlier this year to go natural and sport a short fro. I must say, that since I’ve gone natural, I’ve been hit on twice as much as when I processed my hair. I receive a lot of compliments. If I am passed over for a position because of my hairdo, I don’t need that job anyway. Instead I would look for companies who are open-minded, or I would look to entreprenuership.

    Ignorance is what ignorance does.

  2. Tammie Brighton

    People have no tact now-a-days! How are you going to make a remark like that and you are supposed to be a professional? And, it’s your own stupid opinion anyway, but you decide to use your clout to ‘impress’ those you think will agree with you! I think natural hair for black women is beautiful and empowering, and white women can’t stand it. They want their hair to be versatile like ours. If corporate america can’t handle our queenliness, then their loss!

  3. I love my hair natural, I am now sporting a big afro. In the fashion world to be a supermodel they do not allow black models to keep their hair natural because it is not “THE LOOK”, what is the look anyway everyone is different to hire a black model and then dye her hair, but a weave in her hair, perm her hair straight and then put contacts in her eyes must make you think they did not appreciate her natural beauty in the first place. But what do they care they do not like the way certain people look but their getting lots of money anyway.

  4. Glamour photography is generally handled and distributed by big names in the business that create great shots they afterwards sell to magazines and publications. .

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