29 Jul 2010

My Thoughts On Essence Magazine Hiring White Fashion Editor

There is outrage folks, and if you don’t know, now you know…US magazine Essence which is targeted at Black Women has hired a white fashion editor. 

I used to read Essence in my late teens and early twenties. I may only flip through it at an airport every once in a while, but that's about as far as it goes for me.

With regard to the hiring of Ellianna Placas [pictured left, on the right] as the new fashion editor, I am in two minds about this, and here’s why.

Reasons why I am ALL FOR the hiring of Ellianna Placas
You don’t have to be Black to know how to dress Black women. Sh** there are a lot of Black women out there who don’t even know how to dress their damn selves. You’ve seen them, I’ve seen them. Hell…you may even be one of them! These women have Black girlfriends who are NOT telling them the truth, and are letting them leave the house looking like a H.A.M. [Hot Ass Mess]. The last time I checked there were Asian, Hispanic, and White make-up artists, hair, and fashion stylists working on Black women. If you can do the job, you can do the job, is what I say.

From my personal experience and from what I have seen at the MAC counter [for example,] I go straight to the first available Caucasian homosexual. I’m not saying Black women don’t know how to do make-up, it’s just the ones that I’ve seen with it caked on whenever I’ve gone to MAC, I do NOT want them touching my face. I know some of you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about! Don’t front! The gay white men who have ‘made me over’ were not the same race as me, nor the same gender, but knew exactly what would compliment my skin tone. So in that regard I’m not about to give Ms Placas the serious side eye assuming she doesn’t know what compliments the many shapes and sizes of Black women.

Aside from traditional African and Caribbean clothing, I am not really sure that advising women of colour what clothes to wear is any different from advising women of any other race to wear. If there’s a hot dress and pair of shoes, why do you need to be Black to advise a Black woman to wear a pair of heels and a dress that’s more than likely been designed by a White European designer?

I'll say it again, you don’t have to be Black to advise and dress Black women. If that is the case then why do a ton of us have shoes and clothes with a wish list the size of the Sahara full of items where a majority of them are created by GAY.WHITE.MEN?

Aren’t sistas reading magazines like Grazia, In Style, Glamour, Vogue and Elle? 
Aren't sistas salivating over the fashions created by non-Black designers? 
Aren't sistas shopping in high end and high street non-Black owned stores?

Yes. Yes and Yes!

This goes to show you that Black women ARE buying clothes where non-Blacks are the owners, and reading publications that are NOT targeted specifically to Black women. Yet there are some women who don’t think Ellianna Placas can advise you on what clothes, shoes and handbags to buy for the upcoming season? Sitcho hypocritical ass down somewhere! So you wanna buy the white man's clothes for your wardrobe, but have a Black woman tell you to buy it?


If there was mass hysteria surrounded by the fact that Andre Leon Talley was the editor at large [now Contributing Editor] of White owned and very much read [by Whites] US Vogue, we [Blacks] would be screaming racism at his treatment.

Double standards? Yes? No? Maybe?

Reasons why I am AGAINST the hiring of Ellianna Placas
Essence is no longer Black owned, as it is now owned by multi-media giant Time Inc, which solely targets a Black female readership. Irrespective of who owns Essence, and looking at it from the perspective of 'Black supporting Black,' wouldn't it have been in the best interest of Essence to keep the contributors Black for its Black readers?  I can definitely see why a lot of people are pissed off, especially when we are taught to look out for one another, and also support one another especially when it comes to Black business.

I find it very hard to believe that there wasn’t a suitable Black candidate for the fashion editor position at Essence. Maybe they thought this would be a radical move on their part and somehow the readers wouldn’t notice and/or say something. You have a magazine aimed at Black women. Do Essence not know anything? Black women are going to air their views and make sure they are heard, like they are doing now!

Essence ‘sold out’ [literally] a long time ago, and maybe the readers feel like they are selling out yet again. How can you be a publication aimed at Black women yet hire a non-black woman over a ton of other potentially successful applicants?

This is a tricky one...as much as I have no problem with Ellianna Placas, the gripe is with Essence, not her. She saw an opportunity and went for it. Good for her! But what if...just what if Ellianna WAS the best woman for the job having worked on Oprah's magazine and US Weekly? Were they supposed to take the next best candidate even if she wasn't as experienced?

I say yes to that hypothetical question, and that was a hard yes. Why? Aside from Essence, we as a people don't do enough to help one another get our foot in the door. If there were Black candidates that were good enough for a Black magazine such a Essence, then it would have been great to hire someone trying to make it in the industry, instead of one who is already very established and White.

It is not impossible, but it is harder for some Black people to get their foot in the door, especially when it comes to a position like this. There are not many well know black magazines out there that have fashion editor positions going free here, there and everywhere. It would have been nice for a magazine that promotes 'sistahood' in more ways than one, to actually practice what they preach.

I know Essence didn't break any laws by not hiring a black fashion editor, but like I said earlier I can still see why people are pissed at their decision.


  1. In 2009 Michelle Obama was not obligated to wear clothes designed by a black designer.
    In 2010 Essence magazine is not obligated to hire a black fashion editor.
    Why so much anger black women?
    you have no problem gluing the white woman’s hair to your scalp, so why do you have a problem with her being your fashion editor?
    Essence picked the best woman for the job and that woman is a white woman.
    So why the anger, when the mother of your first black president is white?
    The logical next step for Essence magazine is to feature President Obama’s white mother on the cover of Essence magazine for mother’s day 2011.
    Amnau Eele
    Black Artists Association

  2. LOL at your comment exactly!!

    Your comment is written to cause offence and stir anger.

    It seems as though you read the title of the blog and glossed over the content. There is NO ANGER in the content of the blog post and you need to refrain from calling black women angry, simply because they have an opinion and are NOT afraid to air it. Maybe you read it in 'your own' angry tone. I am so tired of black women being labelled as angry, it's getting way beyond old, it really is.

    There is no attack on the white woman who got the job as the Fashion Editor at Essence. I clearly stated both of my reasons as to why I am for and against her position at Essence magazine.

    Rather than add to the debate in a mature and adult manner, you want to start with the 'black woman attack' Angry jibe? Hair comments?

    What I find interesting is that you received death threats when you spoke out publicly that Michelle Obama SHOULD HAVE worn a black designers clothing to the inauguration. Yet you come on here waving the "why so much anger black women" card and stating that Essence picked the right woman for the job???

    So let me get this straight you were up in arms and publicly called Michelle Obama out, but your now calling black women angry and saying Essence picked the best white woman for the job.

    You're not right in the head luv. Blatant hypocrisy at its finest. Blatant!

  3. Hang on just a hypocritical second Amnau... aside from LD CLEARLY calling your hypocrisy out, did you not read the BOLD and UNDERLINED writing where she gave her opinion, one for and one against the hiring of Ms Placas?

    Secondly when will black women be allowed to have an opinion and argue it passionately without people like yourselves coming out and proclaiming that person to be an angry black woman? It's a tired line meant to offend that quite frankly shows no imagination. You might as well *exit stage left* smh


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