Some folks have gotten their panties in a bunch over Beyonce’s cover for the “Shape Issue” of Vogue. Beyonce is one of only five black women to grace the cover of Vogue since it was founded in 1892, but blogs like Jezebel and Sociological Images think the magazine was being sexist and racist by putting her on the cover. I agree to some extent, but not for their reasons.
Sociological Images blogger Lisa writes that the cover story, “Real Women Have Curves: Beyonce At Her Best,” is sexist because curves only refer to boobs and ass. Well that sounds about right to me. Curves is just another way of saying a woman has an hourglass figure. If a woman has big boobs, a big ass, and a protruding stomach, then she really just has one curve—one that starts at her shoulders and continues to bow to below her butt.
The blogger also asserts that the story is racist because it reinforces the stereotype that black women are especially curvy. I’ve never met a black woman, or man for that matter, that didn’t enjoy a little something extra in the trunk and thighs. I’m not saying we should reinforce stereotypes that have some truth, but I think most people only find fault with this stereotype when black women are hyper-sexualized as a result of their curves. Vogue didn’t sexualize Beyonce, in any way, as her body is hardly visible on the cover. Oh, and by the way, Beyonce is in no way “extremely thin” as the blogger writes.
What I do find racist about this cover is that Beyonce fits an accepted ideal of black beauty. She has slightly Anglo features and light skin, like Halle Berry, who has also graced the cover. And she wears a long weave/wig of hair that most black women can’t grow naturally. Couple her appearance with her success and you realize Beyonce was a safe, unsurprising choice for the cover of the “Shape Issue,” which is an absolutely ridiculous concept for Vogue anyway, whose motto should be “thinner is better.”
I’m not so sure who this blogger and others think would have been a better choice for the cover. Maybe they think Vogue should have kept their black cover models to an even four, you know, to stay politically correct.