Are Ethiopian Models Over-Represented In The Modeling Industry?

130 Comments
February 23, 2012 ‐ By

"liya kebede"

 

By H. Fields Grenée

I’ve never really thought much of beauty. As an African American female raised among an extended family where every skin tone, eye color and hair texture was represented – beauty was a rich texture of various shades.

Maybe this is why writing an article about the perceived increase in use of Ethiopian models by advertisers to appeal to the African buying audience seemed an easy task. But in actuality the subject proved to be a scorching hot potato issue. Few if any wanted to discuss the topic openly because it scratched the surface of an uncomfortable dilemma.

Since the early seventies, marketing budgets spent to attract African American consumers has steadily increased. Commercial plot lines went from rarely showing minorities to, in many cases, showcasing them, or more accurately – pushing an encapsulated ideal minority.

“With the recent interest in Ethiopian women, or women from the “horn” more broadly, it is amazing how almost blatantly Social Darwinist ideas get espoused,” noted Professor Davarian L. Baldwin, a Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Trinity College, who focuses on African Diaspora issues.

“So in the case of Ethiopian women, I hear talk about an “Ethiopian” skin tone, facial features, and bone structure. I hear so much about the beautiful skin of Ethiopians, not in terms of blemishes or smoothness but because it is seen as the perfect balance between darker sub-Saharan Africans and whiter Caucasians,” said Baldwin. “I also hear they are the perfect beauty blend because of their brown skin and yet long (more Caucasian-looking) hair.”

Though Baldwin purports “ideal beauty standards” for any ethnic group are ridiculous, his research clearly shows that “dominant” beauty types within groups both emerge and tend to change over time.

He notes an example of this found in the shift in Italian beauty standards from Sophia Loren, a “southern” Italian beauty of the ’60s revered for her smoky full-figured “dark” look versus the now popular fair-skinned, blond waif. Then there is the ever evolving face of Jennifer Lopez. Since first garnering attention in the late ’80s as a dancer on In Living Color, she has softened her look, lightened her hair and become the benchmark for “voluptuous” curves in Hollywood.

“To be sure something must be made of personal choice,” contends Baldwin, “but it seems far from coincidental that (JLo’s) personal choices move her closer and closer to the dominant beauty standards of U.S. media outlets as she has grown in “acceptance.”

“Yes the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder may be true,’” he says, “but it’s also true that beauty standards have emerged based on the repeated dissemination of certain types and the pay scales and contracts given to models based on particular features.”

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  • Yagazie

    this article makes loads of sense though: for example, take newcoming ethiopian models like Alewya Demmisse. She is stunning. She is a habesha Ethiopian girl, however of course not to mention maybe her talent as a model is great, but realistically, she is the standard of exotic. Just like Liya Kebede. Alewya Demmisse and Liya Kebede both have the same features, skin, hair texture, stature, and ambiguity. In the western world, especially America, women like Alewya Demmisse and Liya Kebede are not considered “black” they are considered exotic. Unfortunately, in the fashion industry being a truly black woman is not synonymous with beauty or exotic. Alewya Demmisse and Liya Kebede would be considered exotic because their features are just like those of white women, disregarding the caramel skin, and darker hair. But they’d be more so the type of women to get a Caucasian man in america and Britains attention rather than a true black woman with features that are purely and distinctly regarded as African. While ethiopians are not less african than any other african, they go into the same context of black as some morrocans do. This is solely based on ancestry and genetics. for example, a man whether black or white would probably more so prefer someone like liya or alewya (personality aside because lets remember they are human) because they are ambiguous and not deemed as “black”. black men fawn after women like them because they are not “too” black. but they are just the ‘right’ amount of colour, ambiguity, to be deemed as attractive by anyone regardless of their preference. It is harder for true black women who are on the other end to feel that same love, warmth, and receptiveness because to be honest they are not respected in the same light. I dont think this article was to insult any Ethiopian or Somalian model AT ALL, he was NOT doing so, but he was saying the truth. The truth is that models like Liya Kebede, Alewya Demmisse, and Gelila are used yes because they are beautiful but also because they are faces they deem as appropriate to represent “black” women. Yet none of these women are black exactly, they are mixed heritage, and yes can consider themself black but completely different than say Alek Wek.

    I dont know, its sad. But its the real world. I wonder if they themselves see the difference in treatment. There is no doubt in my mind they get treated better by men, and women, and get more opportunities because of their looks, ambiguity, and skin colour. Not to even go off and start the light vs dark, but that plays a role too. Its hard for black women to gain friends of other races, in places like America and UK at times. But granted if you look like thse women you’d have no problem because you are ‘exotic’ and ‘beautiful’ enough of a balance for all of them to tolerate and admire. Its really sad and Ive seen some beautiful black womens self esteems plummet because they had this sad belief that if they looked like models like Liya Kebede, Gelila, Sayat, Mearg and Alewya they’d get further. to be honest they probably would and the fashion industry is a dangerous game especially for a black woman to look into where in not many of them look like you and not even the “black” models look like you

    • April Lamba

      Disgusting post. As if Caucasian men care what women buy or watch on runways, when was the last time a fashion magazine was targeted to white heterosexual males. Horn African and Central African features are African features, and just because you are jealous (or have some deep seeded angry to West African features) doesn’t give you the right to demonize a minority within a minority. How many African models are there recognized in America/West versus black American models (mixed or not). I would think a black woman would be happy and support another fellow black woman who is working and trying to get accepted in a racist world, but I guess you just want to undermine people’s hardwork, ridicule them, criticize their culture, heritage and country to make yourself feel better and to stop hating yourself.

      • Yagazie

        Definitely missed the point in the post April! I think East African models are beautiful. I don’t have deep seeded anger to west african features, but I know what it’s like to be ridiculed for being a black woman who has west african features, and having had siblings, and friends with east african culture/features etc. I find it especially rambunctuous and predictable of you to misinterpret, which is arguably represents what I was getting at of people miscontruing the truth about this issue for jealousy. The fact the word jealousy was used proves that you have insecurity about people who are honest about this matter. I am proud of all ethnic women who are making it in the industry, but the bottom line is they are the “chosen” one’s and the “chosen” faces. After all, character reveals all, so it ultimately comes down to personhood before looks, but on basis such as modelling? Please. How is it hard work, firstly, to be an aesthetic that you did not ask to be born with and be the preferred archetype? That is not hardwork, that is genetics/chance/and beauty. Hard-work is accomplishing the odds, which is why I am proud of models like Gelila, Liya, even the young new comer who I believe has Ethiopian roots based on an article I read about cara delevingne scouting her. However, the reality is that with features like there’s, it is A LOT easier to be casted, revealed, promoted, and recognized. Now, I actually have familial connections to East Africa, so you sound a bit ignorant assuming that I’m ridiculing their cultures (which proves your insecurity and anger towards women who don’t look like them and don’t get the opportunities, as myself, because we often times don’t since we aren’t considered “exotic”) I do agree with some points you were getting at though, for example, stop hating yourself (myself in this matter). I understand what you were getting at, I do have some personal issues and experiences that have definitely influenced my outlook, which is why I am very justified and have proven basis for my opinion(s) on this. Again, african women, and all the derivatives of them, are beautiful. Growing up, my older sister was my complete opposite, she got scouted to model and did so- she was also reminiscent of Liya/Alewya, all of them in her own way. She was lighter in complexion, big curly hair, straight nose, and racially ambiguous. Now, am I hating on them or my sister? No, I am capitalizing the truth behind the standard of beauty, it’s something that definitely made me internalize a lot of self-hatred growing up, not because I was not light (I love being a coco hue, deep dark, and rich like mahogany btw) or not because my nose was not as straight, but because I got treated badly in comparison to her, my cousins, and my friends as a kid, and into now (young adulthood). im sorry, you deemed it insulting, but it had nothing to do with that. The reality is being a model with “ambiguous” and horn like features, socially, politically, and intimately opens up your options because of subconscious and conscious ideals on what attractiveness is.

        This was not meant to be insulting but again, I have my own personal experiences. I know first hand what it is like to not be regarded for my looks, which is okay, because personality and who you are is not your physical, but your mind. However, as a young black woman who DOES NOT look like that, and with first hand experiences, I can also say you’re very indenial if you believe that this whole “east african girl” craze doesn’t cause self-hate. Before you say the word jealous, btw, please remember that jealousy is of hate, and bad wishes. I am not jealous of envious of what I can not be, nor are others, however, I know what it is like to want to be someone else because you never got love as yourself. That is all I was saying about this matter. But you sound a bit corrupted if you believe otherwise. Yene konjo though sister. Be of a kindred spirit and limit your anger towards another.. you seem to be the one harboring some anger towards another. Remember…we all have our experiences, and our experiences sometimes shape our thought and ideals sadly. But also remember, that this is a valid issue for many women. It’s hard, to never feel beautiful enough, to never feel validated, and to have it constantly reiterated that you are not enough as yourself in a plethora of ways.

        Look forward to a response.

      • Yagazie

        Also great point about the models. However, there are actually a lot of East African and Northern African models, out there. There are also a lot of models, regardless of origin, who fit this aesthetic dynamic, which in general is not less black than any other woman who has west african features, but it’s definitely an aesthetic that has brainwashed a lot of Black women who don’t have such features to hate themselves- along with the crazes about light skin, curly hair or east african girl(s) (well deserved for everyone, btw, i’m not taking away from their attention) but it’s all about aesthetic. And the crazes more often than not have nothing to do with the richness of their beautiful cultures and diversity of africa, but just the aesthetic of fitting that dynamic. I definitely support black women, as a black woman, but again I am speaking the whole truth on this matter, the reality is that it’s easier to get by in life when you look like that vs. someone like me. (But again I’m ugly in general, which has nothing to actually do with me having west african features lol, but yes)

  • destiny’slovechild

    There are PLENTY of non Ethiopian black models from Alek Wek to the Oluchi girl to of course Victoria Secret models Jessica White, Chanel Iman, and Selita Eubanks (the last three are all American and are better known than the Ethiopian ones in the US). This article is just starting a bunch of crap, especially considering that other than Iman, there is no other Ethiopian model who has the notoriety of Tyra Banks or Naomi Campbell.

    • April Lamba

      And Iman isn’t even Ethiopian! Tyra Banks (with colored eyes and light complexion) and Naomi (who declared herself mixed with Chinese since the day she modeled). Not once were these people declared “NOT BLACK”. But once Eat Africans are acknowledged they are considered less than? Rubbish, I sense jealousy!

      • Yagazie

        LOL, you sound like an advocate for putting black women against eachother with this whole jealousy ordeal. You’re really itching to say, “You’re just jealous that East Africans are more beautiful, intelligent, worthy, etc” Listen, you have misinterpreted love.. Iman is not Ethiopian, but she is East African, and again, not all East Africans are Habesha much like models like Liya and Alewya. Tyra Banks never got considered not black, because she has been an advocate for being a BLACK model. Africa is rich, diverse, and beautiful because of it’s wealth and cultural ambiguity. But the term BLACK, BLACK is not a term exclusive to East Africans. Black was a term really curated by massa’ in the America, thanks to the colonial ordeal. Naomi Campbell can say she is mixed with Chinese as she is Jamaican with Chinese ancestry as well- but she never disregarded the fact she is 100% a BLACK woman. In the islands, a lot of people have asian lineage as well as african due to it being a melting pot. There’s nothing wrong with East African models getting shine or calling themselves Black, the problem is that they should NOT be the archetype nor the “FACE” of what black women all over the world look like. Which is what the article was getting at. They are represented as the only valid type of black models. Yes there are Rileys, and Alek Wek’s, beautiful just like their lighter sisters, but the reality is that the brown face in the white industry comes from the truth. The truth is that Ethiopian models represent what people WANT the black face (worldly) to be, look at them, they are beautiful (I think equally as beautiful as their opposites) but they also have features that are not predominantly BLACK, which is what the issue being discussed was. Not just Liya, or Alewya Demmisse, but look at models like Megan Gabrielle, and a slew of other upcoming models on tab. It is just a shame. There is no diversity with black models, you are one extreme or another.

        • April Lamba

          So pointing out that there are many people who demonize East African women (ex. this HORRIBLE SELF-HATE article) means that I want to stir up trouble? I’m pointing out MN hypocrisy and hypocrisy of many black American media outlets which demonize a group of women (esp Ethiopian) who do not make up a dent in the fashion and beauty world! Please name 10 famous East African celebs/models and now famous 10 “black” American celeb/models. Now why was this article made??

          • Yagazie

            No one is saying Africa is not diverse, you’re hard of hearing and reading it seems, because no one is angry, at least not me about the richness of the African peoples. Africa is so beautiful it is a land of many, of life. The Ethiopian being the brown face in a white industry isn’t exclusive to them, but ALSO exclusive to mixed race models who adhere to the same shallow standard of light skin, curly hair, straight nose. Are they beautiful and worthy of praise? ABSOLUTELY, everyone is, but point is regardless if you choose to play victim or not: you have it easier in the industry when you look like those women. That is it. And if you wanna get specifics, white features stemmed from Horn africans. Africans were first. The reality is that being BLACK in this industry is biased and self-loathing and very sad for young black queens.. Its like you’re shown automatically “You’re cool but when you look like this? LOOOOOL! winning!” So please hold your tongue. The black beauty standards in general is just warped, I’d rather a natural Ethiopian queen get the spotlight than someone processed like Nicki Minaj (although she is worthy in her own right). There are few black women who actually represent pure black beauty out there. I mean look at roots singers, like Queen Ifrica, ya think people calling her beautiful? No, but she’s natural. But the last black american female to really embrace her blackness? India Arie, coming off of the badu and lauryn hill train..

            Other than that if you see a list of top black women? Always will be, Beyonce, Halle Berry, Megan Good, Paula Patton… guess what they all have in common? Complexion, features, etc. LOL

  • Marques

    This is actually incorrect their are more somali models than ethiopians

  • April Lamba

    Great, you love embracing mixed chicks in America as beautiful black beauties but if African women (without any white in them etc.) get some recognition you hate on them…great!

    • Yagazie

      Lol, stop wanting people to be jealous of Africans. You’re giving us a bad rap. It is not a matter of being less than, if you want to get technical, they should be the only one’s actually calling themselves Black- because true to the term, Black is a term designated for true african people’s, and proudly so, East Africans are NOT less than, they are more than. The reality is, the term black was not designated for them. The term was given to, (sad it was given to anyone) WEST AFRICAN SLAVES, with features that are not Horn- apparent, to insult them. I’m glad African women get recognition, the thing is it is very hard for black women who don’t look like them to feel beautiful because of constant reassurance that they are not.

      • April Lamba

        You shouldn’t put your angry of white-ideals you experience in America or back home to innocent people from the East! It is your culture and societies fault and that needs to be address. If your women aren’t appreciated for your beauty by your men WELL that’s not anyone else’s fault except your society and culture! Also You act as if East Africans were not enslaved/colonized! We have lots of history and diverse culture of food, clothing, religions AND BEAUTY FEATURES (yes we don’t all look alike!). We do not want anyone to be jealous of us as envy is poison! We are sick and tired of having to prove ourselves as being black or African. And this article proves the sick envy many other insecure women have. We do not monopolize the runways as Nigeria and South Africa as they are much more advanced than East Africa is in this field (and many other fields). I don’t see why so much blacks(ex. this article) HATE any success of their fellow black sisters in East Africa when I don’t see this same public HATE for a successful Colombian ex. Sophia Vegara from Peruvian or latino women!! Hate so far as to call us not-black or not-real African!

        • Yagazie

          The thing is April, THESE ARE BLACK IDEALS AND WHITE IDEALS. And that is the sad part, which you fail to understand.

        • Yagazie

          And yes East Africans do dominate the modelling industry in comparison, you have a lot of repressed issues it seems. I’m sure you’re an advocate for being the voice of repressed East African women who are “beautiful and hate being envied” because you keep tossing that negative word around. I understand.

          • Yagazie

            But please, the article was poorly worded, it was to shed light on the fact that most black models being represented are very close to the European ideal of exotic and beautiful. Whether american, caribbean, south american, african, asian etc. The closer you are to that structure, the closer you are to limelight.

    • Yagazie

      The point is April, it is not an article meant to insult, but its about industries such as the modelling realm finding ways to not actually represent different types of beauty since they tend
      to choose those women that have features that don’t really diverge from
      typically European features. (It is not undeserved, or contrived because these are peoples natural features) But look, straight hair, thin noses, thinner but full lips
      etc. instead of choosing more Alek Weks…or anything that lies between
      Liya Kebede and Alek Wek. It is not just about Ethiopian models, it is about models in general who are of a “mixed race” ‘look’ getting recognition.

  • LittleBabyBug Jones

    i think you make a good point in general, which is that the women who are proffered up as “beauties” in our community do not reflect a wide enough or even accurate range of phenotypes to be found in our community. they do tend to overrepresent mixed women and those who appear to be such, which makes it harder for the plain old majority of us that don’t look that way. i think that’s by design.

  • B.Sol

    I tried to like this article, I really did. But I walked away wondering what exactly the point was. If it’s to identify women from the horn (Lydia is actually of Eritrean origin BTW) as more acceptable to the modelling industry because they appear to look more white, I disagree completely.

    I’ve often attempted to combat the uninformed way of thought that there is an ‘African look’. Africa is a HUGE continent. The Western world has been exposed to West Africans for the most part, and believe this is how Africans should look. It’s simply lack of exposure that gives people the idea that East Africans are mixed.

    Articles like this simply perpetuate that ignorance.

    Africa is HUGE. If you go to Nigeria, South Africa, Gabon, Eritrea or Cameroon, you’ll see different features, skin tones, bone structure and height.

    • April Lamba

      Most black Americans are ignorant of this fact. The secretly view Africa as a country with no diversity, culture, or heritage. Which is why many were not supportive of Lupita when she got her moment to shine.Not ever African looks like Alek Wek (she is South Sudanese for you ignorant Americans, and YES its an nationality) and lives in mud huts with no access to school or electricity like many ignorant Americans think.

      • Yagazie

        Also, I’m not quite sure who the Black American you’re speaking to is, because I am not American, but I do agree with you, Blacks in America are often times very ignorant, and uneducated about this. The system is very flawed and the best for a black youth, especially a black woman, is to travel, and to experience the world outside of america because it is a place that often times represses her with these ideals- and ideals also such as being an “east african girl” is exotic and much “better” than looking like a “west african” or “normal” “uninteresting (something i’ve been told)” black woman.

        • April Lamba

          I find Americans in general ignorant of different cultures, and blacks are not immune to this. Its not Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali, Kenyans fault for being held up as “East African beauty” as it is not Brazilian, Venezuelan and Colombian women’s fault for being held up as ‘Latin Beauty’ or South Koreans, Chinese and Japanese as East Asian beauty. Or Dominican and Cuban as Caribbean Beauty Ideal. That’s how the world works. I don’t get why I find so many black Americans angry at seeing success (in fairness VERY small as black Americans vastly take the cake of black celebs and performers in the west which is excellent) of East African models and actors/celebs. Calling East Africans, white dipped in chocolate is self-hating and demeaning. We view ourselves and how history as black Africans. I have yet to hear any Asian say a South Korean actor ex. Hyunah white dipped in custard. They view her as Korean, a nationality in Asia.

  • alasia min

    Many east Africans have Arab and Jewish admixture as well as black African. Many are mixed

    • B.Sol

      You’re very uninformed. Please do a bit of research on the history of the horn before make such ridiculously false comments.

      • alasia min

        How am I uninformed? Just look up Ethiopian and you can find this out.

  • Rose

    What many commenters below don’t get is that European features developed out of Africa. These aren’t white women dipped in chocolate, these are Africans with natural African features. Africans had more time to develop their features than any other genetic group, thus the vast variety of noses, cheeks, etc. So people who don’t understand African genetics and automatically associate an African phenotype with white, Asian, Mexican, or ect shouldn’t really be commenting.

  • Lola

    Why are you ALL arguing about something so stupid. Like really doe? Yall need to calm down and try to go get a Life, Damn!!!

    • tysandsnyc

      Amen.

  • Philatg83

    Ethiopian women are pretty. We need to stop hating on each other because of our own insecurities. This is how whites have been able to divide us. We’re all African. Besides, if the under-representation bothers some women then they should make their voice heard by with holding back their dollars. Patronize companies that market to you if it’s that big a deal. But this idea that Ethiopians aren’t really black or whatever is stupid.

    • Yagazie

      They are beautiful, but what do you tell a young black woman who has constantly been told she is ugly because she does not look like her sister (Ethiopian or what have you)? Women who look like that get treated better, and that’s all I have to say. I’ve had some really horrible experiences which have proven this to be true for me.. I’m also not attractive in general so I dont blame my culture/race, I blame my looks in general. They are the “chosen” ones

      • April Lamba

        You should focus on that culture that is demonizing someone who doesn’t look Ethiopian. If you are Nigerian of COURSE you won’t look East African. And anyone of your country that makes you feel horrible is at fault. Nigerians have beauty to as well as Ethiopia. Hating on Ethiopians but holding up mixed women as ideal beauty which Madame Noire (and all American blogs and ratings; look at the hottest women in the world and hottest “BLACK” women they are almost always mixed or biracial in the top 10, how does that hurt a African girl looking at that??) ALWAYS does and this HURTS African Beauty! And last time I checked Indonesian women aren’t angry at South Koreans or Japanese women being held up as Asian beauty. They are happy ANY Asian ethnicity would be in the western front. Africans should do the same!

  • Yymissethiopia77

    We have white physical features? How may I ask?

    • Lidya

      Hi, I’m ethiopian too and would like to know. Then again, this is the americans point of view..not ours. We are just happy being ethiopian…

      • Bruktawit

        LOL I’m Ethiopian also and I’m confused by this as well. I guess we are now deemed ‘not black enough’ or ‘white looking’. The ignorance of this article is mind blowing. And please stop saying we have Arab blood, we have Semitic blood as in the Jews. Don’t people read the Bible or the Quran, it clearly states that Queen Sheba of Ethiopia had a song by King Solomon of Israel named Minilek I. If you are aware of Ethiopian history, you would know other than the Semitic blood, we are one of the least mixed black nation in the black world. We have been isolated culturally and traditionally from the rest of the world for too long to be deemed anything but proud Africans. We were never colonized so we don’t have much mixture with the whites. We are very proud Africans who are still trying to maintain our identity as PROUD AFRICANS through the teaching of our own writing and reading, our own calendar, our own unique ways of living, our own numerals, our own AFRICAN HISTORY!

        And we are proud to be Africans.

        • Yagazie

          Yes! :) But that does not mean that Ethiopians should represent the whole of Black people.

  • LeTronique

    The problem with this article (typos aside), lies in the fact that the editor targeted Ethiopian models as an example. Instead, the author should have targeted the modelling industry for misrepresenting us African Americans with mixed race AA’s. Yes, Ethiopian models have been sought out for centuries for their exotic looks, however, not all Ethiopians look the same, as the article suggests.

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  • Bella

    Loved this article! You hit the nail on the head, MN. I’ve seen a habit of this happening over the past couple of years and although I have nothing against Ethiopian women, the beauty industry seem to be using them as a way to say they’re using black models to represent black women so we need to stop complaining, which of course is BS. 

  • lulu122

    This article is incredibly racist. The problem with the fashion industry is the lack of a fair amount of people of colour. All POC are underrepresented. Africans are underrepresented. The amount of Ethiopians, successful ones is not even close to the amount of successful Caucasian models. Mr.Baldwin is not Ethiopian and definitely NOT qualified to make comments about a people he does not belong to. To call Ethiopian looks Caucasian is racist. They are African, and their features unique. There is not one European who has the looks of the people of Ethiopia. There is much more to one’s face than the size of their features. Hair length varies among Africans depending on their personal taste. Long hair is not something that only Caucasians posses. In Ethiopia the hair lengths vary from short to very long. Ethiopians are not in debt to Europeans for their looks. Please stop posting racist, inaccurate articles.

    • Davarian Baldwin

      Perhaps some context and clarification is in order. I was asked to respond to mainstream reportage about an “Ethiopian Explosion” in the fashion industry. My response was based on extensive research in the Black Fashion and beauty industry. The comments about an Ethiopian “look” and “Ethiopian features” came from insiders in the fashion industry, not me. A close re-reading of the essay will demonstrate that I directly attack the very ideal of a standard “Ethiopian look” and respond that ethnic standards are a product of selected and ideal traits. The generality that Ethiopian women or women from the “horn” provide the perfect blend of brown skin and “European” lines or “angles” again was not my assertion but a position held in the fashion industry and journalists in the industry. My attempt was to analyze the larger meanings behind such claims, so many of the observations made here in posts are ones that I share. But I do think that readers shoudl know about the race-based assumptions that shape what we come to receive by the fashion industry and the media as “ideal” beauty…especially in light of claims about an “Ethiopian explosion” in the industry. I don’t condone such generalities but it is my job to analyze what they mean within a larger context. To be sure, I said that the idea of an explosion is laughable but that those in the industry are asserting an explosion, predicated on the so-called general features of Ethiopian women as the “best of both worlds” is something that we should be informed about and directly engage in conversation. 

      • Luwam

        Since you have done ‘extensive research’ on this I challenge to name 10 Ethiopian models?

        The fact of the matter is there has only been less than 3 supermodel that came out of Ethiopia. As an Ethiopian woman I’m highly offended of your article as its offensive and attacking.

  • ABJ

    Sorry, but this article is just stupid. Ethiopian women are beautiful by ANY standards. Don’t hate, appreciate!

  • Kate

    Like Really… Who cares. That is such a ridiculous thing to say.

  • A.J.

    I can understand where the criticism is coming from.  I don’t think that this article is putting down Ethiopian (or even Somalian) models.  It’s just that there are very different types of Black beauty, and it appears that Ethiopian women are often held up as the African beauty standard.  Additionally, white people may find it easier to accept their type of beauty because they have things that whites can still identify with, such as long hair.  I think that a lot of whites in the fashion industry may see them as exotic and somewhat Black, but not the same type of Black as say, someone from Benin.

    • Kaay

      Well said…

  • KUWYFC

    It is simple. We need to control our own image. Create a way to market to all of the melanin-efficient and stop giving up our hard earned money to those that destroyed our lands and culture and now our self-image.

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  • http://twitter.com/DTFunkyChocolat Dannie

    So basically, the models aren’t “black” enough. But then, when something like that is said, how exactly can you define what a black woman is and should look like? 

  • http://twitter.com/DTFunkyChocolat Dannie

    So basically, the models aren’t “black” enough. But then, when something like that is said, how exactly can you define what a black woman is and should look like? 

  • Colliz6

    “Horn girls” are beautiful by any standard. I do see the point the author is trying to make; however, despite some of their European features they are still BLACK women; and deserve to be celebrated just as much as our more Afrocentric looking women. If anything these women prove just how diverse we are as black people. We come in all different looks. Instead of nit picking lets celebrate our differences. There will never be just one look that represents us all as black women, that is unrealistic. We are way too varied for that.

  • Colliz6

    “Horn girls” are beautiful by any standard. I do see the point the author is trying to make; however, despite some of their European features they are still BLACK women; and deserve to be celebrated just as much as our more Afrocentric looking women. If anything these women prove just how diverse we are as black people. We come in all different looks. Instead of nit picking lets celebrate our differences. There will never be just one look that represents us all as black women, that is unrealistic. We are way too varied for that.

  • Leahdej

    Btw this person sounds super uneducated by completely neglecting to acknowledge that there are different faces to Ethiopia/the horn . smh

  • Leahdej

    Btw this person sounds super uneducated by completely neglecting to acknowledge that there are different faces to Ethiopia/the horn . smh

  • Nefijones1

    This author of this article does not uplift the beauty of African women on the Horn of Africa. 

    I believe that many black women are proud to have such beautiful black women in the modeling industry. 

  • Nefijones1

    This author of this article does not uplift the beauty of African women on the Horn of Africa. 

    I believe that many black women are proud to have such beautiful black women in the modeling industry. 

  • Gloria.A

    I’m disappointed with this article. The author describes how Ethiopian women and in general women from the Horn are chosen for the more European features and Caucasian-looking hair, but he also fails to mention certain things that, I feel, are key. Let’s not confuse things – European/white models look like East African women, NOT the other way around. The article seems to subtly imply that Ethipian women aren’t black enough or African looking enough. What exactly does an African woman look like then? It is not such a simple thing to define.  

    • lamrof

      “European/white models look like East African women, NOT the other way around.”… Excellent point.

      • brit

        I second the statement. gene flow came out of east africa. all other africans originate from east africans. i am an african american who has spent much time in ethiopia, from gondor to hawasa. ethiopians definately are black. in fact ther is a whole set of facial features (stereotypical african) that are common in ethiopia, but in the USA, you may not see as often.

    • lamrof

      Most western black people believe most white people are prettier or more handsome than them. Beauty is suggestive and cultural. Europeans have taken the bully pulpit of influence when it comes to beauty standards. We Africans go right along with it. Ethiopians don’t look Europeans. Its Europeans who look like Ethiopians. The gene flaw is out of Africa, always. Also in Ethiopia there is a tribe that emphasized big lips so much so a plate is inserted inside the lower lips of women to make it bigger. Having thin lips or non existent ones are considered ape like by these cultures. Big Buttocks in some tribes, large bright eyes in others, long and erect body posture in south Sudan, the standard of beauty in African tribes is so different than what our western and white influenced minds can understand.

      In Tanzania there is a remote tribe that will eat your kidney to cure evil casts, if you are white. This tribe doesn’t see the difference between albino and white.

    • lily

      Whoa!! You read my mind!!! “European/white models look like East African women, NOT the other way around.” I was getting really irritated since technically Africa is the birthplace of humanity and all humans have African features. Europe just happens to have the eastern part of Africa’s’ features.

    • A

      people think Europeans have a monopoly on certain features. They do not. If East Africans, South Asians, and Arabs all have these so called white features then they’re not very white are they? East Africans & South Asians have been around very longer than Europeans have been around, so yes it should be the other way around.

  • Gloria.A

    I’m disappointed with this article. The author describes how Ethiopian women and in general women from the Horn are chosen for the more European features and Caucasian-looking hair, but he also fails to mention certain things that, I feel, are key. Let’s not confuse things – European/white models look like East African women, NOT the other way around. The article seems to subtly imply that Ethipian women aren’t black enough or African looking enough. What exactly does an African woman look like then? It is not such a simple thing to define.  

  • Shary92

    what about somali’s???? xx

  • Shary92

    what about somali’s???? xx

    • Leahdej

      When it says the “horn” it refers to somalis too

    • Leahdej

      When it says the “horn” it refers to somalis too

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/V7PVAGYZL5JNXMEBXEEDHO3C2I Wilder

    Why has the author not said the same thing about biracial/mixed race who dominate the media “as black women.” Paula Patton, etc, all represent the same “white in brown skin” ideal.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/V7PVAGYZL5JNXMEBXEEDHO3C2I Wilder

    Why has the author not said the same thing about biracial/mixed race who dominate the media “as black women.” Paula Patton, etc, all represent the same “white in brown skin” ideal.

    • Yagazie

      I agree. But I included that idea into my thoughts. I think its a bit sad. Listen I’m happy for all ethnic women, but the standard of “black beauty” is everything but a coco hue sometimes.

  • Leahdej

    this article lacked in relevance and i felt as if it was an indirect jabb at the “horn girls” . This article wasnt thought through properly. And the fashion industry does alot of things that piss ppl off but thats how it works. Im super disappointment with this piece

  • Leahdej

    this article lacked in relevance and i felt as if it was an indirect jabb at the “horn girls” . This article wasnt thought through properly. And the fashion industry does alot of things that piss ppl off but thats how it works. Im super disappointment with this piece

  • Guest

    If this article is so far askew, there wouldn’t be the explosion of ethnic rhinoplasty. 

  • Guest

    If this article is so far askew, there wouldn’t be the explosion of ethnic rhinoplasty. 

    • Melay Araya

      plus skin bleaching plus shaming others in regards to hair.  what makes this article TRASH is that its simply inaccurate.  ethiopian models do not dominate the black modeling industry by any means. 

      • liyad

        Wow, you are this insecure???really? Let’s all love each other

        • Yagazie

          Please, tell me to love another female who gets treated better than me one more time. Because I never envy anyone, nor do a lot of people, but i take it in, and hate myself for how I look (not my colour, or race, but I know that if I looked that way, I’d get treated better)

  • Doyourresearch

    this is garbage.  sudanese and dominican models have much high profile in fashion than any other african group.  i can easily name 5 of each group who walked shows already this season.  as for ethiopians…???

    research people. research

  • Doyourresearch

    this is garbage.  sudanese and dominican models have much high profile in fashion than any other african group.  i can easily name 5 of each group who walked shows already this season.  as for ethiopians…???

    research people. research

  • Ebonydiva82

    I think that Liya Kebede is beautiful. I also think that Alek Wek is beautiful. No, they do not have the same features but so what. Many Ethopians are multi-ethnic (mostly with Middle Eastern/Arabic ancestry) which possibly explains their features. I don’t understand how stereotypical African phenotypic features are a threat: they are ethnic features which, at many times, distinguish us from other ethnic groups but I don’t consider anything threatening about them. Can someone with knowledge explain to me what is meant by our features being threatening because hearing that statement makes absolutely NO SENSE to me…

    • http://twitter.com/Cognorati001 Colette Marcheline

       Whites have so villified us all over the world that there are many non-Blacks who buy into stereotypes of Blacks being savage, dangerous, violent, mean, loud, etc.  Those of us who are darkest are perceived as the most “Black” and experience the most negative stereotypes.  I am not even AA — I am mixed race and from the Caribbean — and have travelled internationally.  The most racism I’ve ever experienced was in Asia, where there are extremely small numbers of Blacks.  They have bought into these stereotypes and generally don’t accept that Blacks are not all the same — they reserve the most extreme racism for Blacks who are dark and for Black features like larger noses, lips, and natural hair.  I recently read an account of a Black woman with dreads in South Korea who was basically assaulted — having her hair pulled and tugged — by Koreans.

      • Colliz6

        The fact that this is happening in the world makes me very angry. Two thousand years of slavery and an eternity of discrimination and being maligned. This is definitely not the black mans’ world. 

        • Mina

          Yet, we are here discriminating against our own Ethiopian sisters SMDH. Americans are the most hypocritical beings on earth.

      • DARKIE

        LMFAO. Links to these outlandish claims that black woman was assaulted?

        It’s about time though that Asians fought back against the savage animals. The track record of Asians killed by blacks is immense!

      • Geez

        The most discrimination I have faced, considering I’m very well traveled and of Ethiopian decent was from African American women….The lack of loyalty to each other is what puzzles me….Thanks for creating such topics because it helps us discuss these issues and hopefully get a resolution from it.

    • http://twitter.com/Cognorati001 Colette Marcheline

       Whites have so villified us all over the world that there are many non-Blacks who buy into stereotypes of Blacks being savage, dangerous, violent, mean, loud, etc.  Those of us who are darkest are perceived as the most “Black” and experience the most negative stereotypes.  I am not even AA — I am mixed race and from the Caribbean — and have travelled internationally.  The most racism I’ve ever experienced was in Asia, where there are extremely small numbers of Blacks.  They have bought into these stereotypes and generally don’t accept that Blacks are not all the same — they reserve the most extreme racism for Blacks who are dark and for Black features like larger noses, lips, and natural hair.  I recently read an account of a Black woman with dreads in South Korea who was basically assaulted — having her hair pulled and tugged — by Koreans.

    • get-it-right

      You’re wrong about their ancestry. Ethiopians aren’t mixed with Arab or Middle Eastern. Their features are completely African. That part of Africa never looked like West Africa nor was it meant to. Human features evolved along a continum. As you travel from one region into the next the features blend over and change. It’s from geography not from being “mixed.” People need to stop thinking that Africans have to look the same to be full-blooded African.

      • Bruktawit

        You are both wrong. We Ethiopians have Semitic blood hence many Ethiopians are Jews.

        • April Lamba

          Ethiopians and East Africans are NOT Jews, go spew your black Hebrew whatever lies somewhere else. Ethiopia has the most ancient Catholic churches and denominations.

          • alasia min

            They do have Jewish and Arab influence. Look it up.

            • April Lamba

              You are mixing up Ethiopian and Eritrean (Sudan has Arab influence, Eithopia has zero Arab and Jewish influence, you can see if in their culture, food and dress). Ethiopians are Christians and had their own sovereign state like Mali.

              • Liyad

                I’m Ethiopian and Beta Israel….A non Ethiopian should not argue about what an Ethiopian is or can be. Never ceases!!!

      • alasia min

        Ethiopians do have Jewish and Arab ancestry just look it up. The people who thumbed you up just promoted ignorance

    • Geez

      African American women .. not all but most, from observation do not smile alot hence they have hard features. Alot tend to have this angry look on their face… Not sure if it’s subcontious.

  • JN31

    Most models chosen to ‘represent’ a race don’t look like the vast majority of women. How many white women do you know look like Kate Moss? The fashion industry tends to hire Japanese women for Asian models who do not look like the Asians you’ll see on a daily basis. They want a blank canvas and conformity. But to nit-pick that Ethiopian models are picked because of their close to Caucasian features is reaching. It’s pretty much trying to say African American women can’t grow their hair long and can’t appeal to the masses. Can we just be happy that someone BROWN is being represented?

    • Ebonydiva82

      I am happy that someone brown is represented however it would be even better if she looked like me.

      • Guest

        i think the idea should be that beauty can be found everywhere not “she [looks] like me”

        thats far-reaching narcissism and i have the distinct sense that if only girls who looked “tradionally black” (WHATEVER that means) were represented, a lot of the folks who write these articles wouldn’t give a damn

        • Yagazie

          Youre right because we wouldnt because they fit the “mixed race” ideal, although yes they are black, they’re automatically considered beautiful because of their features

  • toastedink

    So basically, they aren’t “Black enough”? 

    What the hell…

  • Guest

    UM THERE ARE TONS OF AFRICAN MODELS THAT AREN’T ETHIOPIAN. DO YOUR RESEARCH. ETHIOPIAN WOMEN REPRESENT A FRACTION OF THE BEAUTY IN AFRICA. THERE ARE LOADS OF MODELS FROM SUDAN, KENYA,AND NIGERIA TO NAME A FEW COUNTRIES.

    • Ebonydiva82

      I have also noticed that many of the black supermodels on the runway are from African countries and not necessarily African-American. There is a Nigerian model who I think is gorgeous: Oluchi Onweagba. She’s statuesque, has “typical” African features and she has beautiful dark skin.

      • Tina Brown

        I think because African women have better relations with Europeans (especially). They are viewed similarly as Asian women are viewed in the U.S. – exotic and submissive, which in turn is feminine appeal and I’ve heard European males say this. Who dominates catwalks? Many European designers do, so you’ll see more African represented than American. African American women have extremely poor relations with white Americans so there is not a relationship there to create opportunity in this realm. In fact, over the years there has been a loss of opportunity for black American models. Not only that, AA women conjure up negative emotions with white Americans due to poor self-image management over the years primarily. This could change in the future, but it will take a tremendous amount of effort and time to undo so much damage.

  • Crimjust

    Okay let’s keep this real, they want our money but have very little use for us as Americans who happen to be black. This is nothing new, as black Americans especially black women we are treated in such a disrespectful manner by so many. The white woman, the black man, those from other cultures. It is the signs that are out there and although they want the essence of the black woman they have very little use for the reality which mean they don’t want us up close and personal. This is not every person of a different or same culture but there are a great deal of them out there. Remember, they want to look like us but not be us. This just shows our strengths and their weaknesses. We will get past this just as we have gotten past the other obstacles.Education is the key and God is the pilot! 

    • Philatg83

      And the black woman has a lot of respect for the black man…There are issues on both sides. Also, why care so much about how the white dominated advertising market see’s you? Unless you crave the acceptance of white men. When is the last time we saw an article written by a black man about not having enough ads geared toward us? Or complainnig about light skinned guys being cast in television or movie roles? You are showing the kind of attitude that keeps a lot of black women single or dating from the bottom of the dating pool of black men. Not all black men disresoect black women, but an increasing number are realizing that they don’t really desire to deal with this anger and bitterness amongst black women. Whether it’s justified or not, the reality is that there is a real decision to be made…is this something that people want to have to put up with?

      • Zah

        As an Ethiopian woman, what does what you’ve written about African american women’s bitterness and anger have to do with this article??/You never cease to amaze me.

        • Philatg83

          Read the comment thread carefully before commenting.
          The comment had everything to do with the responses TO the article. It had everything to do with pointing out how ridiculous it is for black women to divide themselves over who is “black” enough to be a true black model. It’s driven by anger and bitterness at not being accepted as attractive by enough non black men.

      • Tina Brown

        I agree Phila, I get so embarrased by the victim mentality always shown by these women on line. When to they ever see things objectively and think about what they could be contributing to the problem. They never look at themselves.

  • Naomi

    The modeling industry prizes thin long necks, willowy long bodies and high cheekbones of Ethiopian models.

  • http://www.fadzayi.wordpress.com/ According to Fadzi

    Whats the point of this article?

    • Cajoca317

       I think the point is that the fashion industry uses Ethiopian women to fill their “color quota” without actually representing different types of beauty since they tend to choose those women that have features that don’t really diverge from typically European features. So, straight hair, thin noses, thin lips etc. instead of choosing more Alek Weks…or anything that lies between Liya Kebede and Alek Wek.

      • lucy

        You hit it right on.  Racism will NEVER end. This fact that the author has pointed out is only proving this.

      • Philatg83

        There is a narrow view of beauty for any race. Only certain types of white women makie it into mags. On certain kinds of hispanic, or asian women do. we need to stop this stupid infighting over light skinned or dark skinned, straight hair or curly, or kinky. We are African and there are a lot of different varieties of Africans. But still all Africans. Do you have balck men complain about not being marketed to? Not being considered a standard of what a good looking man is? If you want to say that there are not enough models of color, that’s one thing. I’m fine with that. But to say that the Africans that are used aren’t “black enough” That’s just insecurity talking. We make up 12% of the population. Why would you ever expect to have a higher percentage of ads geared towards you.

      • Tina Brown

        Well, to be honest most white models need to fit a certain ideal as well, be it facially or body wise. Standards apply to everyone. Few haute couture models have bulbous facial features, or extremely hawk like noses, or dumpy figures. I’m glad they are using Ethiopian and at least they are inclusive when it comes to dark brown skin tones. Heck, they could reject African women for not being light skinned so I’m not complaining with them preferring Ethiopian women. Personally, most African American women aren’t that pretty these days like they used to be, so it may be much harder to find exquisite beauty with the black American women of today. The gene pool reflects less mixing…we haven’t been keeping things diverse and it’s showing by the general facial features and body structure, which appear very West African, and that is not a compliment. Years ago, you had more blacks with a variety of interesting features, you could find more pretty American black women – perhaps not in droves but far more than you do now. With us only keeping things very black and blacker over several decades, the features are looking too potent for our own good. They need to be averaged out a bit not to fit to some racial standard but to be visually appealing within a black phenotype.

        • destiny’slovechild

          Please shut the hell up. Black American women are gorgeous and just as beautiful as Ethiopians or any other women for that matter. Jessica White and Chanel Iman anyone?

          • Yagazie

            Oh gosh. They are beautiful, but they are also mixed race black women, who are beautiful but not “so unique” and different more than anyone else. But their skin tone definitely got them where they were. And “exotic” heritage.

      • destiny’slovechild

        Yet Jessica White and Chanel Iman are bigger names than most of these Ethiopian models?

  • awet

    There are many ethnic groups, tribes, and languages in Ethiopia and all of us don’t look how the media portrays us to look. For the record many but not all Ethiopians have thinner features, lighter skin, curly or wavy hair. Nonetheless, Ethiopians are Africans with African features. It may not always be your narrow-minded view of what you think Africans should look like, but it doesn’t change the facts.

    • KissOfDanger

      I don’t think the article was meant to put down Ethiopians! They are just as black as we are but their phenotype is closer to white/arab. The writer was pointing this out by saying that their features do not represent most of the majority West African descended women who live in the USA. Using women of the horn is just another way around having to use black women, with dark skin, really nappy hair, and west African features. It’s avoidance.

      • Philatg83

        Why does a company have to use people that they don’t want to use. There are types of white women who never get used in ads either. If it’s not affecting the companies bottom line, then obviously thepoeple are cool with it.

        • KissOfDanger

          “Why does a company have to use people that they don’t want to use.”

          To appeal to the demographic who they are actually selling to.

      • Tina Brown

        Ugh, I don’t blame them to be honest..that sounds gross.

      • destiny’slovechild

        I’ve seen plenty of black Americans with the same features as Ethiopians and considering all the black Americans with white admixture from slavery, I would say that most black Americans are around the same skin color as Ethiopians

        • https://darkandusky.tumblr.com/ KissOfDanger

          You do know that the majority of Ethiopians look less euro.

    • KissOfDanger

      I don’t think the article was meant to put down Ethiopians! They are just as black as we are but their phenotype is closer to white/arab. The writer was pointing this out by saying that their features do not represent most of the majority West African descended women who live in the USA. Using women of the horn is just another way around having to use black women, with dark skin, really nappy hair, and west African features. It’s avoidance.

  • jnetdnj

    Please do better with editing. I’m sure u meant “small waist” instead of “small waste.” Thank you.

    • Ona284

      This is actually one of the better written articles on this site. The typos I have read on this page!

    • Colliz6

      Uhmm!!! i see “small waist” in the article.

  • tam

    lay off the Ethiopian women.

    • MissK

      I think this issue has already been addressed under the phrase “white women dipped in chocolate”

      • B.Sol

        What an incredibly ignorant statement and a clear indication that there is a SERIOUS need for education.