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Evelyn Lozada is quickly becoming the most hated woman in reality TV and from the looks of things, sites who promote her in any way are also become some of the most hated.

Essence is doing damage control after unexpected backlash for featuring a wedding photo shoot of Evelyn on their website. The photo gallery features pictures of Evelyn in a shoot designed by celebrity stylist LuLu Amin of the styling house November Lily, but with Essence calling the spread an “exclusive” many assumed the shoot was done exclusively for their site and that’s where things went downhill. In addition to 23 comments or so from readers calling the feature “one of the poorest choicest Essence has made to date,” and asking “what are the requirements to be featured in Essence? Sleeping with black men should not be one of them,” some backhandedly complimented the magazine, calling its decision to “exploit the insecurities, fears, and anger of black women by placing a non-black woman on the website to drum up traffic-absolutely brilliant!” The editor of Whataboutourdaughters.com took to her site to express similar sentiments, writing:

“To say Ms. Lozada is a hyperviolent, Black woman hating, foul mouth scourge would not quite capture her true essence. Add to that, the man she’s engaged to has publically stated that he has a preference for non-Black women, then you see the logic in highlighting Ms. Lozada on a website whose tag line is ‘Where Black women come first.’ Makes total sense!”

Essence Relationships Editor Charli Penn stepped in on the thread to clear things up, writing, “Evelyn Lozada is not on the cover of ESSENCE magazine and ESSENCE did not shoot her. We were simply sharing photos from a private shoot that international styling house November Lily did with Ms. Lozada privately. This is not a cover, nor a feature in the magazine. That news was poorly-reported by multiple blog sites. Thank you. But viewers were not impressed, and continued to suggest that “Essence hates black women.”

In her blog on the incident, the whataboutourdaughters editor commented that this situation should be filed in the same category as the magazine’s Black love covers featuring Kim Porter and Sean Combs and Reggie Bush, and I think there lies the reason why this feature has become such a big issue. People have a hard time forgetting past transgressions, and when you take into account the July 2010 Reggie Bush cover in which the magazine appeared to be praising a man with no affinity for black women. Featuring the wedding shoot of a Latina woman marrying a black man who has a preference for non-black women—to some—has the appearance of putting her on a pedestal above black women.

But still, why so much anger toward Essence? Is it because they didn’t put a snarky spin on the wedding spread the way other websites would have? Essence is hardly the only site to feature Evelyn and the other women on the show, but they are one of the few who presented Evelyn in a positive light that many believe she’s undeserving of, particularly given the preview of this season of “Basketball Wives.” But Ebony magazine featured Chad and Evelyn as one of its hottest couples in its February, Black love issue this month and no one made a peep. Is this any different?

Perhaps people have come to expect more from Essence because of its claim to be “the place where black women come first,” as the editor pointed out. For some commenters the choice seemed to signify doubts about the publication that were already bubbling below the surface and that this feature choice brought to light. One wrote, “How disappointing. Not that I expect much from Essence these days, but you keeping sinking to a new low. Does this magazine and website have ANY standards anymore?

Essence is seen as a magazine for a more mature demographic, so perhaps that is part of the issue as well. It’s almost expected that other sites geared toward the18- to 34-year-old age bracket would have some mention of these women, because even for the few viewers who express disgust for the way these ladies represent black women, those continue to be the posts that earn the highest views and the most comments. Most times, it’s inaccurate to say that these aren’t the images women want to see when they continue to click on articles to read and watch what they have to say.

But for Essence, that may not be the case and maybe this issue serves as a wake up call that these actually aren’t the women their readers want to see, or else as one poster warned, “Continue posting features like this and Essence, you too will become a non-muthaFawking factor to most Black women.”

Are readers right to take Evelyn’s wedding shoot so negatively? Do you think it was wrong for Essence to specifically feature the photos or are they any different from other black websites?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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