Monday, May 18, 2009

Et Tu, Iman?

First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, Iman, and Opera Singer, Leontyne Price

Say it ain't so, Iman!

Hat tip: lamh32, poster at JJP:
Michelle Obama no 'beauty' but 'bright': Iman

NEW YORK (AFP) — US First Lady Michelle Obama is not a "great beauty," but will "just get better with age," Iman, one of the first black supermodels, says in a magazine interview.

"Mrs Obama is not a great beauty," the Somali-born model and wife of rocker David Bowie tells Parade magazine's Sunday issue, reflecting on the first black US first lady, who is a lawyer by training and a former executive.

"But she is so interesting looking and so bright. That will always take you farther. When you're a great beauty, it's always downhill for you. If you're someone like Mrs Obama, you just get better with age," she said.

Iman, 53, also told Parade that her rise to catwalk superstardom did not free her from racism.

"You suddenly represent a whole race, and that race goes, Well, that person does not represent our ideals of beauty. For lack of a better term, it becomes what it was like during slavery," she said.

"One had the field n...(expletive) and the house n...(expletive). There was this notion that I was chosen by white fashion editors to be better than the rest, which I am not. I did not like being thought of as the house n...(expletive)."

When I first read this article, I thought that maybe she was taken out of context and that it would best to read the actual Parade magazine article which is here. The only difference between the two is that Parade left out the "house/field n" reference.

I can't lie. This really disappoints me. This is really out of character for Iman. I remember reading an interview where she said that she knew that they were trying to pit her against fellow Black supermodel, Beverly Johnson, and would have none of it and went out of her way to befriend her.

For years, she has spoken out about the discrimination Black models have faced within the fashion industry, and how they are shut out from doing runway shows or acquiring cosmetic contracts (the fashion model's equivalent to the Oscar). And why were they shut out? Because they didn't fit the industry's Eurocentric standard of beauty. Hell, once upon a time, Iman wasn't considered "a great beauty", and yet here she is using that same narrow beauty standard to critique Michelle Obama.

Here's an excerpt from an interview Iman did for CosmoGirl! in 2004:
"Beauty is being comfortable and confident in your own skin. I have no intention of ever writing beauty tips on how to make an African-American nose look slimmer or Asian eyes look bigger. That's degrading. Asian eyes are what's beautiful about you and what makes you different. I want my legacy to be that I've opened the gates to what's considered beautiful now — and you are beautiful."
Doesn't this describe Mrs. Obama? She's comfortable in her own skin, refusing to succumb to the bullying from those who try to dictate how she should dress or act. And like Iman, she has "opened the gates" and expanded the definition of beauty, so why is Iman trying to close those gates?

"I did not like being thought of as the house n...(expletive)."

Well, Iman, when you make comments like this -- which is no doubt based on Eurocentric beauty standards -- it doesn't help your cause.....sista.

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