PUBLISHER’S CORNER: Who Says White Women Can’t Dress?

29 Jul


Change.  Who says change is a bad thing?  I mean, when a woman changes her hair or her style we applaud.  When your 8 year old son finally sees the light and changes their underwear on their own we applaud.  When a retailer or mainstream publication decides to tip its hat to the plus size woman we applaud.  When Obama has black, white, blue, yellow, and orange people packing out stadiums and chanting the 21st century version of Kumbaya (Yes We Can!), we applaud.  But what happens when an African American publication names a white woman as Fashion Director?  (Do you hear the crickets?  Do you see the blank stares?) 

 Being in the big chair at a publication (ok…it’s a medium chair I bought from Staples), I can understand Essence’s decision to cross color lines.  Sometimes you need a bit of a fresh eye…fresh look…new blood if you will, to push you to the next level.  Sometimes, you just find the man or woman who can get the job done and get it done well.  And sometimes…business is just business.  No matter how you look at it, it’s ruffling feathers.  Change is never easy, and when you are sitting in the big—er—medium chair, it’s even harder but it is much needed. 

“Transformation occurs when the pain of staying the same outweighs the discomfort of change” (Michelle May MD).  She has a point.  We shy away from change because we are afraid of what others may think or feel about our decisions.  The backlash, if you will, is more than a person can handle sometimes, but what would happen if we just threw caution to the wind and went in a different direction?  In a year from now, when we stop and look back on our journey what will we say?  If you take the same path around the world, you will see the same places, and meet the same people—but if you deviated from that path you just might be surprised at who or what you find. 

 I applaud Essence for hiring the new blood.  I don’t feel like I am any less of a black woman because I wear Ralph Lauren’s perfume vs. Queen Latifah’s, and I won’t feel any less of a black woman because a white woman decided to direct the fashion section of Essence.  For some it goes much deeper than that, I understand, but at the end of the day what would we hate more–stagnation or a sister of the lighter persuasion running the fashion department?  Besides…who says white women can’t dress?

Always Love,

Sommer J


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