Black Beauty Is In: From Beauty Queens to Fashion Magazines, Women of Color Reign Supreme

By Norment, Lynn | Ebony, September 1990 | Go to article overview

Black Beauty Is In: From Beauty Queens to Fashion Magazines, Women of Color Reign Supreme


Norment, Lynn, Ebony


BLACK Beauty IS IN

From beauty queens to fashion magazines, women of color reign supreme

Black beauty is in. Not too long ago, it was impossible to find a Black woman on the cover of a major White publication, and very few were found on the inside pages. That's why it is inspiring--startling, actually--to discover beautiful Black faces and bodies gracing the covers of three prominent women's publications in the same month.

And for the first time ever, Black women simultaneously reign as the country's premier beauty queens--Miss America Debbye Turner and Miss USA Carole Gist. And not only did these young women win their state titles to qualify for the national contests, but they competed against several other Black women who won their state titles as well.

The prevalence of Black beauty queens and models is an indication that along with the '90s has come a broader definition of beauty. Society's narrow barometer of what is attractive has been expanded beyond the centuries-old white-skin, blue-eyed, blonde-hair standard to include what people of color have always known: Black is beautiful. Short and natural hair can be a woman's crowning glory. Big, luscious lips are sexually appealing. And the various shades of brown-black skin provide a beautiful showcase for any woman's assets. What is most promising is the fact that ebony-complexioned models with close-cropped hair, such as Sebastian, are being recognized for their natural beauty.

It must also be noted that 14-year-old St. Louis model Kimora, whose parents are Korean and Black, was chosen by Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld to star in his show. "This girl represents the '90s," he said.

"I am proud of my heritage and happy to represent my people of color," says 20-year-old Miss USA Carole Gist of Detroit. "I think being Black is one of the advantages I had in the pageant. It made me stand out. I have a feeling that the 1990s will be the decade for women of color. I think people are waking up."

To what Black people have known all along. Since its inception in 1945, Ebony Magazine has glorified the beauty of the Black woman, and Fashion Fair Cosmetics was founded in 1973 to cater to women of color who virtually had been ignored by White companies. At the same time, Ebony also insisted that advertisers use Black models in ads targeted at reaching Black consumers.

While for decades they were caricatured in the media, the natural assets of Black women are now being recognized and glorified beyond the Black community. In articles and in interviews, beauty experts praise the virtues of full, luminous lips, and scores of advertisements tout beauty products that enhance this beauty asset. For decades White women have gone to great lengths to darken their skin, and in recent years and in increasing numbers they pay tribute to Black beauty by having surgery to enlarge their lips.

One beauty editor writes that a particular lipstick "gives lips on the thinner side a lush daytime look. For added width and fullness, form lips into an `O' and fill in corners with lip pencil." Another lipstick "looks wonderful on wider mouths."

Full-lipped Naomi Campbell, the 20-year-old, sexy supermodel of British and Jamaican descent, seems to be everywhere--on the cover of major magazines, in fashion spreads, and in feature stories as well.

Karen Alexander, the attractive 24-year-old New Jersey-reared model, has appeared on the covers of six major fashion publications, and in hundreds of ads and fashion spreads. She and fellow Black models Louise Vyent and Kara Young were profiled in an article titled "The New Top Models" with the subhead "How they'll change your beauty ideas." Only one White model was included in the article.

"Scan any magazine and one of the first things you'll notice is that the dominance of the blonde, blue-eyed model is over," the Glamour article says.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Black Beauty Is In: From Beauty Queens to Fashion Magazines, Women of Color Reign Supreme
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.