As a Black twenty-something in the age of Tumblr, I’m finding discussions about race and privilege totally commonplace. It is not at all unusual for me to be asked to weigh-in on the latest race-related scandal. I am happy to explain to countless White feminists why my situation is different than theirs — that while we share a Venn-diagram of experience, there’s plenty more hate and hardship they’ll never know thanks to this thing called white privilege.
White Privilege, in its various forms, protects white women, particularly, from being purposely excluded or stereotyped by the media to be unworthy of saving or protecting. Cops will come to their neighborhoods, their rape case will be mass-publicized, they won’t get shot in the face for coming to your door looking for help… we all know about that shit. This article is not about that shit. I’m in my 20s, so this is going to be tinged with rage about my own relation to the matter. For a young woman, White privilege is political, and above-all-else, financial. The most explicit definition of White privilege to date? The cross-eyed model.
Brunette Moffy (possibly her real name?) made headlines in November after getting signed to Storm Models after appearing on the cover of Pop Magazine. In an interview with the Daily Mail, photographer Tyrone LeBon claimed, “We chose to shoot her because we had recently shot with models and wanted a change.” Other models on Storm’s roster include Cara Delevigne, Kate Moss, and Behati Prinsloo.
Let me start by pointing out that this is absolutely NOT about the model herself. I’m sure she’s delightful to be around, hardworking, and vocally grateful for her recent success. She. Is. Not. The. Problem.
What is frustrating, however, is that there are often upwards of 20 White women on any given runway, and while there are Black models that fit into the narrow mold of acceptable beauty, they are often told that more than one of them is simply too much.
“We already found one black girl. We don’t need you anymore.” is a thing a casting director has said out loud to a gorgeous POC in the year 2013. Let that sink in. Even as society is demanding diversity in a way that reflects the world we actually inhabit, the best the media can offer is a cross-eyed White girl. Is her face especially memorable save for the fact that she waited too long to get her strabismus fixed? No. Would a cross-eyed Woman of Color of the same attractiveness level even get asked to audition? Abso-fucking-lutely not. White imperfection trumps Black perfection, and I don’t know how to make why that is incredibly infuriating any clearer. Black kids all have received the Rowan Pope speech, “You have to be twice as good to get half as much” — this is that scenario played out in reality.
Omarosa came under fire recently for telling Bethenny “my-entire-personality-is-that-i’ve-transcended-the-need-to-eat-food” Frankel that White women can walk around “being mediocre and be celebrated for it.” Let the repeated celebration of this cross-eyed White girl on the cover of a magazine be the visual shorthand for this concept.
Sharing these feelings generally ends in the White girl getting butthurt because many times she is under the impression that oppression is a pageant and she is not going to win if our lives are that much harder. The truth is that this is not a competition where anyone wins. Eyes can be opened and we can aim for understanding and support of problems we don’t experience firsthand. We cannot, however, aim for a world with more equality if we can’t be open to seeing our own privileges where they exist.