Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Naughty by Nature? Amber Rose in Elle

In last month's issue of Elle Magazine, three female celebrities were predominately featured in seperate fashion editorials. One of these women was styled and photographed very differently from the other two. Of these three women, two are white and one is black. Can you guess which woman's editorial was not like the others?
The article "Selling Hot Pussy" by bell hooks speaks of the limited roles of black women in fashion magazines and how the "black female body gains attention only when it is synonymous with accessibility, availability when it is sexually deviant" (66). She also describes how black women are further sexualized in print and film which often "invites the gaze to mutilate black female bodies" (64) by focusing solely on their butts, which is "seen as an indication of a heightened sexuality" (63). The photographs taken of model/Kanye West's girlfriend, Amber Rose for the October issue of
Elle exemplifies the statements made by hooks.
For her first "high fashion" photoshoot.Amber Rose was photographed in a hotel room The images begin with Amber sitting down, legs splayed open over an ottoman, with her back arched so her breasts point noticeably towards the camera. She is wearing large sunglasses that conceal the majority of her face. The caption "Naughty by Nature" accompanies the photo. In the next image, we see Amber in the same outfit and sunglasses, but this time she is pushing against a wall, arching her back again. This time is is her butt that is the focus of the picture. The third photograph shows a change of scenery, with Amber lying on a bed in a tiny dress, the camera positioned above her, looming over her in an all powerful way. The last picture in Rose's fashion spread, depicts her looking out a window, in a thong bodysuit; her face is turned away from the camera entirely. Rose's pictorial is especially interesting when viewed against the two other (white) female celebrities featured in the issues fashion spreads. Not only are they shown in more clothing but in they are also in softer lighting and less provacative positions. In the essay "What if Black Women Were White Women?" the author attributes many stereotypes and cliches usually associated with black women to white women and vise-versa in order to show how easily physical differences connote different perceptions. This strongly figures into how images are presented. Black women are often stereotyped as hard, ghetto, or primitive/exotic so it is rare to see black women being shown in a way that highlights softness or sensuality rather than sexual or animalistic.

Here are the photos from the Amber Rose
Elle shoot along with the shots of the two other celebrities, Victoria Beckham and Diane Kruger, in the October issue:

Diane Kruger: Victoria Beckham

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