Separate but Equal? All Black Editorials

Though I was super proud to write an article for Vogue Italia paying tribute to the diversity of black beauty, I’m well aware that some may take issue with the concept of all black editorials in what can be considered mainstream publications.

An author of the Gloss recently wrote, “There’s the somewhat irksome idea that black women need their own special issue, while for the other eleven months out of the year, the magazine will revert back to “normal” (i.e., mostly white). It seems a little condescending to me to treat racial minorities as some kind of separate category, whereas if Vogue Italia were really going to treat all ethnicities equally, they’d simply use all different kinds of models all the time, without seeing fit to comment on their race or make it into a gimmick. I guess it’s better than ignoring the issue completely, but it seems like a pretty shallow and tokenizing solution to me.”

I can see the ‘tokenizing’ argument, and do feel that there are many ways Vogue Italia (and other magazines) could be a little more nuanced in their treatment of minorities. But, I do appreciate efforts to acknowledge black models (and black writers), and think these editorials are the beginning steps to full inclusion. I also believe (and hope), that this is not a phase, and is instead the beginning of a conversation that started in the 70’s, ended abruptly in the naughts, and is now on the table again.

The Life Rhapsodic US Vogue March 2011 featuring Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn, Ajak Deng, Joan Smalls, and Anais Mali

How do you guys feels about All Black Editorials?
Should they be eradicated completely and replaced with ‘We are the World’ type shoots?
We are the World: Liu Wen, Lais Ribeiro, Kasia Struss, Magdalena Frackowiak, Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss styled by Edward Enninful and shot by Steven Meisel for US Vogue September 2010.

Images via Italian Vogue


Claire Sulmers is the publisher and founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, the #43 most influential style magazine in the world.

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