November 27, 2007
Twittering the Glamour panel on “Women, Race & Beauty”
Here early, prime seat by door, reading Min Jin Lee as I wait.
Kicked out of prime seat by A/V guy; denied alternate seat by snotty redhead, “waiting for [her] friend.”
Who is bitch kidding. Bitch has no friends.
Obtaining new seat on far side of room. Cute girl at end of row smiles. Much better.
Woman in African dress sits between me and cute girl, introduces herself: Nelly, from Ghana, works in public health.
Cute girl is author Veronica Chambers. Change cute girl to cute respected author.
Why is this starting late? Take opportunity to chat with Nelly and Veronica, re: writing, public health. Also, what’s up with using the word “race”? Isn’t that, like, racist?
Starting! Ed-in-chief Cindy Lieve introduces event:
“So, this white chick who no longer works here said afros were no good for work, so we’re having this panel because oh my god, how gauche was that.”
Farai Chideya takes the moderator’s podium. Instant credibility.
Farai: Most black women have a ‘hair moment,’ where someone questions or insults their choice of hairstyle.
Audience, panel: Indeed.
Panelist Jami Floyd of CourtTV: Tell me about it. I had my natural poofy hair for years, but to get on TV, I had to straighten it. How do I explain this to my daughter, who hates her poofy hair?
Panelist and make-up artist Mally Roncal: Asian clients ask me to make their eyes rounder, some black women want their noses thinner. Sometimes entertainment execs want their clients whitened up a little. I get flack for wearing big hair and fake nails. You just gotta be you.
Panelist Vanessa Bush, Executive editor of Essence: If it’s not Don Imus criticizing our hair, it’s some other ignoramus. At Essence, we show all kinds of hair, because that’s what our readers have.
Token white panelist Barbara Trepangier, author of a book about “well-meaning white people” and racism: White people are racist, and they need to admit it to themselves.
Panelist Daisy Hernandez of ColorLines: Yeah, that’s not really a surprise to the rest of us. So, do you have any non-white chicks working at Glamour, or what? Also, Jami, what’s up with your straightened hair?
Jami: Hey listen, I had to give up a piece of my self to get this job, and it sucks, but I do it, because I have bills to pay, and they are not letting me on Court TV with my ‘fro on.
Audience member: But WHY would it matter how you wear your damn hair? Can we just say that it’s because people are racist, and that’s bullshit?
Jami: Look, white men are in charge. I said I was conflicted about it! Did I mention my mortgage?
Panelist Venus Opal Reese: People are stuck in history instead of living in today. It’s about how you perceive their perceptions. Don’t accept their bullshit interpretations, and you’ll be free of them.
Vanessa: Again, ignorant people will say stupid shit about your hair. Try to regard it as an opportunity to teach them something new.
Panelist Lisa Price, founder of cosmetics company Carol’s Daughter: I want to see more black women represented in major ad campaigns for everyday skin and hair care products. Niche stuff is great, but let’s bust out of the niche.
Audience member: My white friends envy people of mixed ethnicity for being sexy and exotic. Do all white women wish they were non-white?
Me, to myself: I am embarrassed by your white friends.
White chick in crowd: First of all, you think YOUR hair is a problem, mine sucks. Second, white chicks get held to impossible beauty standards too. Like, what about ageism?
Audience member Ayana Bird, author of Hair Story: Black people are just as bad as white people, if not worse, when it comes to each others’ hair.
Audience member Loretta Rucker, African-American Public Radio Consortium: Tell me about it. I wore my hair natural for forty years, but then I had to perm it so that I could work with the conservative black colleges.
Audience, panel (sings): Talkin’ ’bout good and bad hair! Whether you’re dark or you’re fair! Go on and swear, see if I care, good and bad hair!
Audience member: So, when are we going to see magazines like Glamour acknowledge white privilege in beauty standards?
Farai: I think we have time for one more question.
My bladder: No, actually, I think we’re done here.