Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dear Yahoo Shine and Elise Solé,

I'm sure many women out there appreciate your article on how super models are the most physically insecure women on the planet. I'm sure it felt wonderful to know that we "normal" women aren't the only ones who feel too fat, that our hair isn't perfectly coiffed, or that we have some body part that just isn't measuring up to the super model standard. I'm sure to an average woman, it felt wonderful knowing that we are not alone. Instead we are amongst the super models in this one area of our lives. We are all insecure.

However, I am not an average woman.

You see while you, Elise, took from model Cameron Russell's talk that models are insecure, I took from it that my bi-racial daughter has a less than 4% chance of ever becoming a model. It's not that I have high dreams that she will become one, but it's the fact that she is part African American that will potentially bar her from being what she may want to be one day. Meanwhile, my two Caucasian daughters have a 96% chance of becoming a model if the genetic lottery plays in their favor.

Something is wrong with that.

Outside of briefly mentioning Cameron's quote: "I am on this stage because I am a pretty white woman and in my industry we call that a 'sexy girl'", your article did not focus on what America needs to hear so that change can happen.

America needs to hear that Cameron didn't focus on her insecurity as a model. Rather a good portion of her talk was on how racial inequality plays a role in our society today. She talked about:

-How we have defined beauty as white skin.
-Last year (2011) in New York City, of the 140,000 teenagers that were stopped and frisked 86% of them were Black and Latino and most of them were young men. There are only 177,000 young Black and Latino men in New York City, so for them it's not a question of "Will I get stopped, but how many times will I get stopped? When will I get stopped?".
-How difficult it was for her to unpack a legacy of gender and racial oppression, when she is one of the biggest beneficiaries.

You had an opportunity to open America's eyes to this inequality, and yet, you chose instead to focus on a small piece of her talk. One that most likely won't cause controversy because we can all agree to feeling insecure at times.

But I won't ignore that racial inequality. Perhaps, as a white woman, I would have focused on the insecurity part of her talk. However, all of that changed in 2010 when I became a white mama to my bi-racial daughter. I can no longer pretend I didn't hear the facts about inequality in Cameron's talk. Because if I do so, one day my daughter will ask me why I didn't fight harder for her to have the same privilege as her white sisters do. I would have to answer her honestly, that I turned away from it and chose to ignore it because it's too controversial of a battle to fight. It's too large. It's too hard.

On that Tuesday when I became a mama to my daughter, I promised her first mom that I would fight for her. That I would not let the color of her skin change what she can do in this life. In making that promise to her first mom, I made that same promise to my beautiful Xiomara.

Thus I write this letter to you. The Xiomara's of this world deserve a chance too. No matter the color of their skin. They deserve to be all that they can and want to be. It's time to talk about it, not just shove it under the controversy rug in feigned ignorance.

In Proverbs it says, "Once our eyes have been opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

Perhaps Cameron said it best, "There are people paying a cost for how they look and not who they are". I think it's time to do something about it. I only wish I would have known long before I became a mama to a bi-racial daughter. I only wish I would have cared when I was just another privileged white woman.

For now, I'm just going to wait on the world to change.