Why celebrating ‘mixed-race beauty’ has its problematic side

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2021-04-19 17:20Z by Steven

Why celebrating ‘mixed-race beauty’ has its problematic side

The Guardian
2021-04-08

Natalie Morris


Kim Kardashian West at a Paris Fashion Week event on 2 March 2020. Photograph: Marc Piasecki/WireImage

The trend personified by the Kardashians is driven by the aesthetics of ambiguity – and proximity to whiteness

I was insecure about how I looked when I was younger. My hair was frizzy and embarrassingly enormous. My bum stuck out too much. My lips were too big. My thighs were too big.

Everything about me – specifically my racialised features as a Black mixed woman – felt “too much”. I remember the distinct feeling of wanting to shrink myself, melt myself down into something neater, smaller, sleeker – which is how I saw my white friends, and the beautiful white people on TV.

Then, in my early 20s, soon after moving to London from my home in Manchester, I began to notice a shift in how beauty was being represented. Suddenly, faces, hair and bodies that looked like mine were plastered on shop windows, grinning down from billboards, smizing (smiling with their eyes) from the pages of magazines. Every other TV ad featured mixed models or an interracial family.

White influencers began plumping their lips, baking their skin, braiding their hair, even undergoing invasive surgical procedures to create curves where none existed. The things about myself I had wanted to disguise or alter in my youth were now in vogue – and I struggled to get my head around that. How did it become “trendy” to look like me? And should I feel pleased about it?…

Read the entire article here.

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Brazilian butt lift: behind the world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Women on 2021-02-10 02:23Z by Steven

Brazilian butt lift: behind the world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery

The Guardian
2021-02-09

Sophie Elmhirst

The BBL is the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world, despite the mounting number of deaths resulting from the procedure. What is driving its astonishing rise?

The quest was simple: Melissa wanted the perfect bottom. In her mind, it resembled a plump, ripe peach, like the emoji. She was already halfway there. In 2018, she’d had a Brazilian butt lift, known as a BBL, a surgical procedure in which fat is removed from various parts of the body and then injected back into the buttocks. Melissa’s bottom was already rounder and fuller than before, and she was delighted by the effect, with how it made her feel and how it made her look. But it could be better. It could always be better.

On a recent afternoon, Melissa visited the British aesthetic surgeon Dr Lucy Glancey for a consultation. Glancey had performed Melissa’s first BBL at her clinic on the Essex-Suffolk borders, a suite of rooms boasting shining white cupboards, a full-length mirror and drawers stuffed with syringes. As she waited for Melissa to arrive, Glancey showed me a picture of Melissa on the beach in Dubai, wearing a palm-print bikini and posing in a kind of provocative crouch – arms, breasts, thighs and buttocks all arranged for optimum effect. “Look how good she looks,” said Glancey, admiring Melissa and her own work. “I said to her, I don’t see what else we can do.”

When Melissa walked into the room, she didn’t exactly resemble her digital self, but then, who does? She’d swapped Dubai-luxe for Suffolk-casual – blue jeans and a pink sweater. After a quick chat, Glancey – dark blue scrubs, coral toenails – asked Melissa to take off her clothes. Together, doctor and patient stood in front of the mirror and stared.

…Like anyone inspecting their own body, Melissa could see things no one else could see. She wasn’t seeing just its current form in the mirror, but multiple versions: her former body, her desired body, her digital body. In her teens, nearly a decade ago, when Cara Delevingne’s thigh gap had its own Twitter account, Melissa had wanted to be thin and flat like everyone else. Then fashions changed. Explaining why she got her first BBL, Melissa, who is white, said she had wanted to fill out a pair of jeans and appeal to the kind of men she liked. “I felt attracted to black men and mixed-race men, and they liked curvier women,” she told me…

…Not everyone can achieve the Kardashian body. As with much of the Kardashian West oeuvre, her bottom has its own attendant controversies, not least because it appears to want to be an idealised version of a black woman’s bottom. Kardashian West, who has Armenian heritage and has always denied having had bottom surgery, has long been accused of “blackfishing” – mimicking and appropriating black culture to enhance her brand. “It’s completely constructed, a kind of fiction,” said Alisha Gaines, professor of English at Florida State University, and the author of Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy. “She’s made an empire on appropriating blackness and selling it to all types of people, including black folks.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Lewis Hamilton attacks silence from F1 paddock over George Floyd killing

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United Kingdom on 2020-07-06 20:23Z by Steven

Lewis Hamilton attacks silence from F1 paddock over George Floyd killing

The Guardian
2020-05-31

Giles Richards


Lewis Hamilton has accused ‘some of the biggest stars’ in his sport of ‘staying silent in the midst of injustice’ after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Photograph: David Davies/PA
  • Hamilton: ‘I see those of you who are staying silent’
  • Driver condemns response from ‘white-dominated sport’

Lewis Hamilton has spoken out about the killing of George Floyd and offered a damning condemnation of the silence from others in Formula One, including his fellow drivers.

“I see those of you who are staying silent, some of you the biggest of stars yet you stay silent in the midst of injustice,” he wrote on Instagram. “Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white-dominated sport.

“I’m one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone. I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can’t stand alongside us. Just know I know who you are, and I see you.”

Hamilton is the only black driver in Formula One and has been outspoken on the sport’s need for greater diversity in the past. “There’s barely any diversity in F1,” Hamilton said in 2018. “Still nothing’s changed in 11 years I’ve been here.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Brit Bennett: ‘Last week was truly the wildest week of my life’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2020-07-06 16:06Z by Steven

Brit Bennett: ‘Last week was truly the wildest week of my life’

The Guardian
2020-07-05

Simran Hans


‘I’m Californian, so nobody really reads me as anxious’: Brit Bennett. Photograph: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

The US author on topping the bestseller charts with her new novel, why being right is overrated, and the TV show bringing her joy in lockdown

Brit Bennett, 30, was born and raised in southern California. She attended Stanford University and earned an MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her acclaimed first novel, The Mothers, was published in 2016, when she was 26. Her follow-up, The Vanishing Half, has spent the past three weeks in the top five of the New York Times bestseller list and the screen rights have been optioned by HBO in a seven-figure deal.

HBO had to outbid 17 rival TV companies in the race to adapt your book for the screen. How does that feel?
Last week was truly the wildest week of my life. It was my birthday week, so I’ve never been sent so many bottles of champagne or bouquets of flowers in my life, and probably never will be again.

And that was on top of your book debuting at No 1 in the NYT bestseller list. What were you doing when you heard the news?
It was maybe 5 o’clock in the evening and I was just sitting on my couch, and my editor called out of nowhere. We were optimistic, but I never imagined that. The people who are No 1 are household names, like Stephen King!

Describe The Vanishing Half.
It’s a story about twin sisters, Desiree and Stella, who decide to live their lives on opposite sides of the colour line – one as a white woman and one as a black woman…

Read the entire interview here.

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My dad was in prison throughout my childhood. I navigated a white world alone

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2020-06-13 22:34Z by Steven

My dad was in prison throughout my childhood. I navigated a white world alone

The Guardian
2020-06-10

Whitney Bradshaw
Portland, Oregon


Collage of family photos from Whitney Bradshaw. Photograph: Courtesy Whitney Bradshaw

Three days after my third birthday, my father was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Starting around age five, whenever I saw a shooting star, I’d make a wish that my dad could come home. Eventually, that wish became “I wish he could be released for just one day”. As I grew, I stopped wishing.

Fast-forward to last week. More than 20 years later, for the first time in my life, I was happy my dad is in prison. Because he’s safer as an inmate than as a free black body walking the streets…

Read the entire article here.

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Harry and Meghan were meant to embody post-racial Britain. So much for that

Posted in New Media on 2020-01-12 02:40Z by Steven

Harry and Meghan were meant to embody post-racial Britain. So much for that

The Guardian
2020-01-11

Amna Saleem


Prince Harry and Meghan Meghan after their wedding ceremony, May 2018. Photograph: Damir Šagolj/Reuters

Remember the choir, the preacher? The marriage symbolised a new era – then the tabloid onslaught began

It’s the stuff romcoms are made of: beautiful young woman meets charming prince and, after a series of mild miscommunications, they live happily ever after. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to go at least. Meghan Markle, the much put upon protagonist of this Nora Ephron-meets-Get Out fairytale, has gone off-script and attempted to create a different happy ending, and with good reason.

Everything that could have predicted the pair’s joint decision to step back as senior royals can be directly traced back through all the sensationalist and derogatory headlines written about Markle. She couldn’t even enjoy avocados without being framed as a drought- and murder-fuelling traitor, set on bringing down the monarchy. Harry, to his credit, has been by her side every step of the way, challenging traditions by demanding an end to the tabloids’ abuse of her, which sadly had little impact. If anything, it gave the news cycle more to talk about – but his actions were nonetheless commendable…

Read the entire article here.

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How I changed my mind about the biology of race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2019-12-29 02:07Z by Steven

How I changed my mind about the biology of race

The Guardian
2019-12-28

Philip Ball, Science Writer


‘I have all the liberal lefty’s revulsion at racism, but I couldn’t help thinking that if we insisted that race is not biologically determined, wouldn’t that just confuse people?’ Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Angela Saini’s book Superior showed me our misconceptions about race and science arise from a habit of the mind

It has been common for several years now to assert that science shows the concept of race has no biological basis, and that we must see it instead as a social construct. That case was argued, for example, by Kenan Malik in his 2008 book Strange Fruit, and it is presented, too, in Angela Saini’s Superior (which I reviewed for the Guardian in July), a popular choice on many “books of the year” lists.

I used to be sceptical about this claim. I have all the liberal lefty’s revulsion at racism, but I couldn’t help thinking: “If we insist that race is not biologically determined, won’t that just confuse people, given that it is so blindingly obvious that characteristic markers of race are inherited?” The usual argument is that genomics has identified no clusters of gene variants specific to conventional racial groupings: there is more genetic variation within such groups than between them. But doesn’t that insist on a definition of race that most people simply won’t recognise? Isn’t it better to say that yes, race has a biological basis – but the relevant bodily features are a trivial part of what makes us us?

I confess that I was too nervous to make this suggestion in such an incendiary area. Fortunately, after reading Saini’s book I no longer need to, for Superior gave me the perspective I needed to see what is wrong with it. Our concept of race is not really about skin colour or eye shape, and never has been. It has baked into it beliefs that can’t be dispelled merely by reducing its biological correlates to trivialities. For in our assumptions about race, those features have always been rather irrelevant in themselves. Rather, they serve to activate prejudices stemming from deeply ingrained cognitive habits…

Read the entire article here.

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Bernardine Evaristo: ‘These are unprecedented times for black female writers’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-12-01 01:12Z by Steven

Bernardine Evaristo: ‘These are unprecedented times for black female writers’

The Guardian
2019-10-19

Bernardine Evaristo


‘These times really are extraordinary’ … Bernardine Evaristo. Photograph: Karen Robinson/The Observer

The first black woman to win the Booker prize argues that a revolution is sweeping through British publishing. But can it lead to lasting change?

Chidera Eggerue, AKA The Slumflower, is a social media star, south-east London homegirl and feminist. She first came to prominence in 2017 when she created the hashtag #SaggyBoobsMatter on Twitter in order to promote the body-positive message that women’s breasts and bodies are fine just as they are. It’s an important idea and antithetical to a beauty industry that berates us for our imperfections. A year later Eggerue published a self-help motivational book, What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough, which entered the Sunday Times bestseller list the week it was published in 2018, when she was 23. In her very pink, zanily illustrated book, Eggerue, a self-styled “guru, confidante and best friend” to her readers, offers advice on self-worth and self-acceptance. An earlier booklet called Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women, by Otegha Uwagba, became a bestseller in 2016, paving the way for Eggerue. This, in turn, was probably influenced by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2014 essay We Should All Be Feminists.

These are unprecedented times for black female writers, in no small part due to the internet. It has reconfigured how we present ourselves to the world at large, as well as bringing previously marginalised social groups and writing to the fore in ways hitherto unimaginable. As a society we are beginning to recognise and take seriously the ills and pitfalls of social media, but it is still the most exciting channel of mass communication since history began…

Read the entire article here.

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But I was unprepared for intense cross-examination about where I was from. I did not understand, until I was a teenager, that my father was coaching me in the art of being a “good” black girl, acceptable to white people.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-11-20 01:44Z by Steven

After my school experiences, any demands to explain where I came from disconcerted me. My parents taught me to hold my head erect, to look directly at adults who addressed me, to smile with my eyes not just my teeth, to speak clearly, and to be conspicuously open, transparent and honest. My dad said that if I did not follow this advice I would be regarded as “shifty”, duplicitous and unworthy of attention. But I was unprepared for intense cross-examination about where I was from. I did not understand, until I was a teenager, that my father was coaching me in the art of being a “good” black girl, acceptable to white people.

Hazel Carby, “My Jamaican dad was an RAF hero. Why did no one believe me?The Guardian, November 16, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/16/jamiacan-father-raf-hero-.

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My Jamaican dad was an RAF hero. Why did no one believe me?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-11-19 21:22Z by Steven

My Jamaican dad was an RAF hero. Why did no one believe me?

The Guardian
2019-11-16

Hazel Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies; Professor of American Studies
Yale University


Hazel Carby: ‘I learned that I was not considered British.’ Photograph: Michel Huneault/The Guardian

My Welsh mother met my father during the war. From childhood, I have grown to dread the question: ‘Where are you from?’

I was in primary school the first time it happened. The boy who sat at the desk to my right – the one who used to pinch my arm whenever the teacher’s back was turned – finished talking about his father’s war experience of heat and flies and deserts while driving tanks across Egypt, and looked at me smugly as if to say, “Beat that.” It was my turn to describe my father’s contribution to the war effort. I stated clearly that my father served in the RAF. On the piano at home stood a photograph of a young man in RAF uniform, with an enigmatic smile, head tilted at a slightly rakish and daredevil angle, holding a pipe in his hand. In my eyes he was the epitome of wartime British heroism.

Before I could describe the photograph, I was interrupted by the teacher who told me to sit and listen carefully. I sat. The entire class was stunned. Silenced by her anger, they stared at me, the culprit, as the teacher issued a warning about the dire consequences of telling lies. She insisted that there were no “coloured” people in Britain during the war, that no coloured people served in any of the armed services, and certainly not in the RAF, the most elite branch of the British military.

Speaking in the slow and deliberate tone of voice that she adopted when she would brook no opposition, she declared that coloured people were not British, but immigrants who arrived on these shores after the war had been fought and won. We all shifted back in our seats, and I cowered in shock and humiliation…

Read the entire article here.

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