Friday, February 12, 2010
White supremacy in beauty and fashion
Re-post - via Jezebel
What does "Young Hollywood" look like? According to Vanity Fair, it's pretty, thin, female and white.
Amanda Seyfried, Anna Kendrick, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish, Rebecca Hall, Emma Stone, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Rachel Wood: There's not a single woman of color on the cover of Vanity Fair's "Young Hollywood" issue. Two of the ladies — Kristen Stewart and Amanda Seyfried — were already on the August 2008 "Hollywood's New Wave." issue. There were two women of color — Zoe Saldana, America Ferrara — on the cover of 2008's "Hollywood Issue," but apparently the next decade is not about diversity.
VF's "Young Hollywood" is much like the golden age of Hollywood: There was a fetishization of the lithe, gorgeous, virginal ingenue, whose virtues and ambitions were pure, and therefore desirable. You either wanted to be her or sleep with her. She was the photographed wearing white, and her "All-American" good looks meant that she was a WASP or a fresh-faced farmgirl. Certainly not black, definitely not fat, and never both. Looking at the March 2010 issue, has anything changed? Even Evgenia Peretz's descriptions of the actresses — "Ivory-soap-girl features," "patrician looks" "dewy, wide-eyed loveliness" — reinforce the idea that a successful actress is a pretty, aristocratic-looking (read: white) actress.
It's hard to say if fault lies with the editors of the magazine, or with Hollywood itself — trying to come up with some projects employing new, young Asian, black or Latin actors and actresses is a tough exercise. The few names which come to mind — Jaden Smith (The Pursuit Of Happiness, The Kung-Fu Kid), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Julian Schnabel's Miral, Woody Allen's next film), Gianna Jun (Blood: The Last Vampire, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) — are up-and-comers with just a few roles under their belts. The Hurt Locker's Anthony Mackie recently did a Q&A with VF.
Gabourey Sidibe — cover girl for the March issue of Ebony — is an obvious choice, though she admits in the accompanying interview:
"I don't try to live up to the standards of Hollywood or any of that – I know that I'm different and I celebrate it. In a weird way, I kind of really, really love being the alien in the room. I dig it."
And it's good that Gabby doesn't care about living up to Hollywood standards. Because judging from the VF cover, the "Hollywood" standards need to change.