Black French celebs are going IN on the wanksters at French Elle over that horrible article they published recently and demanding that the editorial staff get their head out of the clouds and actually start including some real black folks in their coverage.
Here’s the scoop:
After French Elle ran a racist online column congratulating black people for becoming “chic” through embracing “white codes” of dress, a firestorm of criticism ensued. Now the magazine is facing hard questions about its editorial leadership, and its history of excluding women of color from its pages.
A group of public figures who happen to be black — among them the French supermodel Noémie Lenoir, the Cahiers du Cinéma critic Vincent Malausa, Morehouse College’s Julius E. Coles — wrote an open letter in Le Monde regarding the Elle column. They unsurprisingly take issue with the way the magazine praised black people for at last giving up their “streetwear” and learning to dress “chic,” which of course to Elle France means “white”:
‘“Elle magazine informs us that in fashion, in 2012, “the ‘black-geoisie’ has finally integrated white codes” of dress. Moreover, “chic has at last become a plausible option for a community that previously knew only streetwear.” While for decades blacks were dressed as hoodie-clad “thugs” [Translation note: cailleras, the word given here as “thugs,” intentionally recalls “racaille,” the derogatory term infamously used by then-interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy to describe the banlieue rioters of 2005, which is most often translated as “scum”], they have finally understood, through the education of white people, that they must pay more attention to their appearance.
This is the content of an article published Jan. 13 in Elle, the weekly magazine preferred by housewives of the “white-geoisie.”‘
The authors of the letter challenge French Elle’s editors to go out and talk to some actual black people, and to not rely on American cultural examples (the offensive column was intended to be a commentary on Michelle Obama’s fashion) when trying to speak to a black French audience.
‘It is high time for the editors of Elle to venture out of their glass-enclosed headquarters in the business district of Levallois-Perret to mix with the population, to see what black people are really like, and how they dress in real life. It is also time for them to realize that there are many black women in France. Black people do not all live in the United States, and they are not all pop singers, film actors, and sport stars.
“Why not,” asks the open letter, “hire some black editors? Call us crazy, but why not have a black woman on the cover? Just for once.”‘
Just an FYI, French ELLE is a weekly magazine, not a monthly like the U.S. version which even has a different publisher. Only two of the 52 covers published in 2011 featured non-white models. One was the winner of a modeling contest, pictured on the left in the photo above. The other was French actress Leïla Behkti, who is of Algerian descent, who is pictured on the right in the same photo. Jezebel.com notes that while French Elle regularly shoots top white models for their covers (Angela Lindvall, Erin Wasson, Kate Moss, Coco Rocha, and Natalia Vodianova) the last time black top model Jourdan Dunn had the honor of an Elle cover was in December, 2008 (cover shown in the center of the photo above). And despite covering numerous other magazines, apparently Naomi Campbell wasn’t good enough for a cover last year either.
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