Are Ethiopian Models Over-Represented In The Modeling Industry?

107 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.”

More from Styleblazer

More from Mommynoire

MadameNoire Video

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pingback: list of emoticons

  • Pingback: Ataui Deng :African Women Trailblazers -More Than Just A Pretty Face « Global Fusion Productions Inc

  • 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.

  • Pingback: Brown Face in a White Industry: The Cruel Hoax Behind the Upsurge in Ethiopian Models « How to Get Beautiful Skin ★ (Revolutionary: Skin Care) ★ (Expert Tips: Dermatology) ★ Perfect Skin ★ Beautiful Face ★

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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?

      • 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.

No thanks