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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Black Model Power

Have you listened to Beyoncé's new self-titled album? If not, then you are seriously missing out. Her album is incredible and shows a side of Queen Bey that the world, besides probably Jay-Z, has never seen before. It's raw, aggressive, sexy, and altogether fierce (yes, fierce is cliché, but describes the album to a "T"). In addition to 14 songs, you also get 17 videos that make up her visual album. What?!? In it's entirety BEYONCÉ showcases her ability to adapt to the ever changing music industry and remain a top icon, all the while staying true to her values.

Which brings me to the point of this article. Besides the sexuality oozing out of the songs and videos, the video that stood out the most to me is "Yoncé". In this video, posing and dancing alongside her are models Joan Smalls, Chanel Iman, and Jourdan Dunn; three of the most prominent black models in the industry. Now, I'm not usually one to point out or begin a discussion on race, but for some reason I feel compelled to do so. I praise Beyoncé for choosing these women for her video, not only displaying their prowess as models, but that there are non-white models in the industry can command attention and deserve to have the spotlight. 

It's no secret that the fashion industry has a lack of brown-skin models in their midst. Last year, Bethann Hardison, a fashion activist and well-known super model of the 1970's, wrote a letter to the top fashion councils pointing out that designers subconciously leave out models of color from their runway shows. This was also seen in Karl Lagerfeld's D'art Metiers Dallas collection, where the only black models, among a sea of white models, were Joan Smalls and Grace Mahary (and not to mention that Black Americans were crucial to expanding the Western Frontier), incorrectly depicting the American Wild West. It's 2013, almost 2014, people! The world is a diverse melting pot of cultures and races and the fashion industry is not doing their part to represent that. 

The vibe I received from the "Yoncé" video is that models of color are a force to be reckoned with, and the fashion world should pay more attention to it. The image of the four of them walking tall and proud, confidently swaying their hips side to side, is a poignant image of unity that, as a black woman, I have immense respect for and would appreciate to see represented on the runways in the next year.

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