Allure Used A White Model To Demonstrate How To Do An Afro

The August issue of Allure features Salma Hayek on the cover, and a big ol’ spread about ’70s-inspired hair trends. Let’s see, there are “bowl cuts,” “long bangs,” “loose waves” — all fine, all good. Nothing offensive to see here. Oh but wait! Also sandwiched into this hair trends piece is a “loose Afro,” as modeled by a white woman. “YES, YOU CAN HAVE AN AFRO,” yells a tutorial, tucked in the back of the magazine, “EVEN IF YOU HAVE STRAIGHT HAIR.”


The model, Marissa Neitling, looks like this in real life. Excellent casting, Allure. Really. Bravo, here.

The instructions for a “loose Afro” basically involve making lots and lots of tiny rag curls and then watching “at least two episodes of ‘True Detective’ while your hair dries. Nowhere does it mention anything about the political history of the hairstyle or the fact that, you know, it’s a hairstyle for Black people with an awful lot of meaning behind it.

al;ure afro instructions

I’m hardly suggesting that Allure get into the business of writing explainers on the history of respectability politics, but I think it’s reflective of the diversity — or lack thereof — of their editorial staff that something like this slipped all the way through rounds of edits and made it to print. Diversity in the workplace, regardless of where you work, matters. Representation of voices matter. Being able to feel like you can comfortably speak up about things that bother you, or that are decidedly wrong — like a white model donning an “afro” hair do — matter. It’s ridiculous that in 2015, we’re still going through the same old shit.