A bi-racial Teen Vogue editor is under fire for featuring a light-skinned model in a story about African-American hairstyles in its June/July issue.
Elaine Welteroth, beauty and health director for the popular teen magazine, was hoping to shed light on the “importance of debunking harmful stereotypes linked to ethnic hair styles” in a new piece on Senegalese twists, but instead has apparently struck a sour chord with many readers by excluding black models from the story.
“Seriously not buying @TeenVogue again. I’m so insulted by this! You interview a White girl about African hairstyles!!” wrote one critic, via The Daily Mail. “why’s your magazine so anti black?????” asked another.
Welteroth first attempted to use her personal Instagram page to explain the company’s editorial perspective, writing:
How do you define black? Just curious. Is it about skin color? Eye color? Hair texture? I ask because this mixed-race model is as black as I am. Also, how do you define cultural appropriation? I ask only because I want to better understand your point of view.
She has since penned an open letter in which she stands by her decision to cast a racially ambiguous model.
“I will be the first to say that the industry still has a long way to go in addressing the deep need for more affirming messages that reinforce the fact that [a girl of color] is beautiful and that she matters,” she wrote. “As one of the few black beauty editors, it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.”
Welteroth explained she, too, can empathize with those who feel as if they are being “overlooked” and “disregarded,” because of their skin color.
However, she still takes issue with those saying she, along with the bi-racial model in the ad, are “not black enough.”
“Black comes in a myriad of colors and textures-all of them beautiful, all of them deserving of representation,” Welteroth continued. “In the telling of this particular story, which is my own personal story, it was important to me to include a model that is also mixed-race ( she is Black and French).”