When people scoff at the #BlackGirlMagic hashtag, I scoff right back. Similar to the #AllLivesMatter argument, non-believers think that it's yet another way to create division amongst the races. With all of the fairy dust vested in me, I respectfully disagree. #BlackGirlMagic gives us our well-deserved time in the sun, especially when brands insist that "white is purity."
But, compared to years past, it does seem like the fashion and beauty industries are getting better at including us. I was so happy to see Maria Borges rock her Afro at the 2015 and 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows, and practically did somersaults when three models wore their natural hair at last year's Parisian show. "Victoria's Secret gets it," I thought to myself. Yeah, it only took two and a half models to make a fan of me, but still: They're down for the cause.
And then the brand dropped its 2017 What is Sexy list last week. "Bold. Powerful. Confident. That's what sexy means to us," an introduction reads. "From artists to athletes, these women (and men!) are at the top of their game, and inspire us to work harder and keep it sexy every day."
Dope, right? Except no, because out of 21 categories, not one member of this esteemed list is Black. (For the second year in a row, btw.) You've got Taylor Swift, who won the award for Sexiest Entertainer. Lady Gaga is their Sexiest Songstress. Vanessa Hudgens (who's been accused of appropriation more times than I can count) is their Sexiest Style Risk Taker. Not to say that there aren't women of color featured: Jamie Chung was tapped for Sexiest Festival Style, and Priyanka Chopra was rightfully honored for Sexiest Red Carpet Look. Even James Corden, Sexiest Late Night Host, got a fucking award. So there's that.
There are a lot of things in the world that don't make sense — just look at our government — but this right here? It's a doozy. Victoria's Secret: you're telling me that there weren't ANY Black women worth honoring, out of alllll the singers, actresses, models, athletes, moguls, and more out there? Gabrielle Union, Justine Skye, Zendaya, Serena Williams, Keke Palmer... I could write your whole list for you right now.
It isn't like the brand completely ignores representation. In addition to the natural haired angels, VS also enlisted Zuri Tibby as their newest Pink brand ambassador last year, which is why this year's roundup is so difficult to understand. I'll take a guess, though. Just like Kendall Jenner's Pepsi commercial, or Nivea's now-removed "White is purity" ad, there probably weren't any voices at the company table to raise a red flag. And maybe that's the craziest part of all.
Here's what I really don't understand though. Why wouldn't Black women be at the top of your list when you're talking about sexy? Our hair, our style, our vernacular, our music, lips, and our hips, along with anything else you can think of, has been revered (and stolen from us without credit) throughout history. I have respect for many of VS' 2017 "What is Sexy" honorees — and I don't need a list to tell me my worth. But next year, they've got honor Black womanhood and stop spreading the hurtful and outdated message that "WhiteIsSexy."
We have reached out to Victoria's Secret and will update this story as we learn more.
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