Love Me, In All My Shades

Some black women would go to extreme lengths to hav

Some black women would go to extreme lengths to have her complexion

Latisha, from the 10 September 2008 episode of the Tyra Banks Show, is allergic to bleaching creams. But because of her desperate need to lighten her skin, she put generic liquid bleach to her face. I remember feeling outrage when I first watched this episode at 15. What could possibly make a woman loath her colour so much? As she told her story, of how people told her that she was pretty, “for a dark girl,” I realised that I had experienced similar events. When people say things like that they make it seem like some sort of achievement to be pretty because I am dark, but can we really blame them if our definition of beauty is the opposite of what I am?

A beautiful black woman, according to mainstream media, is light-skinned. The hip-hop culture constantly promotes, “yellow-bones”, women of lighter skin. There is a general consensus that besides being viewed as more physically attractive, black women who have fair skin are favoured over “red-bones” or darker people. There are less cosmetic products that go with their skin tone where there is a wide-range for those of lighter skin and white people. Sometimes some cosmetics companies do not go beyond the darkest shade white people can achieve.

Colourism is very pertinent in our society today, besides being a recent and controversial topic. The term is applied to the discrimination between different shades of black people, where people (of all races) give preference to or discriminate against black people of a different shade. This problem keeps growing what with recent the recent boom in skin bleaching products.

As we are still hanging about in the dust of apartheid, it is important to realize that racism is not over. Just because laws enforcing racism are gone does not mean that the people who enforced, made and supported those laws stopped. White people are still favoured over black people in the media, and the black people we have in the media to represent us are mostly light-skinned. And it is no secret that they are favoured over darker people. It is wrong for people to be seen as more beautiful than others purely based on the colour of their skin.

In 2008, while her show was still on, Tyra Banks had an episode where she interviewed women who bleached their skin and asked them why they did it. Though her mother told Latosha she was beautiful, she also told her that, “being lighter brought [her] beauty out more.” She holds the same mentality and bleaches her own children.

I conducted a survey among black UCT (University of Cape Town) second year students, all on the brink of adulthood and therefore, the most susceptible to colourism. Most of the girls admitted that they did not like when their skin went darker. The image of black women presented in the media –of light-skinned women is what we come to naturally associate with as ‘beautiful’. One of my fellow students, Nyasha*, said that she did not hate her skin tone, she just did not like it when it got darker; it made her feel less beautiful. Another, Anele* said that her mother always told her to stay out of the sun and bought her bleaching cream when she refused. The boys admitted that they thought that light-skinned girls were prettier but, there were some really pretty dark girls as well.

I realize that most of my comments are generalizations and do not hold true in some cases but at the same time, they are generally true. I also believe that the image projected by the media to us needs to change and that black women need to be uplifted so that they can stop harming their skin and their children’s. The message we are giving to the younger generation, when we bleach our skin, is that they are not good enough as they are. We are teaching them to be ashamed of their skin colour. This message is wrong and bigoted; and it needs to change. That is why I find women like Tyra Banks, who constantly promote women and especially black women to love themselves as they are, so inspirational.

It is wrong for anyone, to feel insecure about their skin colour and wish to change it, especially in this day and age. But they are victims of society because, as I have said before, lighter-skinned women are put on a pedestal and as Tyra says in that episode of her show, “darker-skinned women need images of themselves in the media to feel beautiful…” because if all we see is light skin we are bound to see that the way we look does not fit into what society deems beautiful. And it will not be long before we wish to change it to fit the norm.

*All names have been changed.

Marikana News Analysis

This news analysis focuses on the Marikana strikes that occurred from the tenth to the twentieth of August last year. The strike was at the Lonmin Marikana mines. During the course of the strike, 34 people were killed and 78 were injured, the majority of the deaths occurring on the sixteenth of August when police opened fire on the striking miners. The cause of the strike was the miners’ request for higher wages. Some believe the violence escalated due to rivalry between two miners’ unions, NUM and AMCU. The three articles chosen best cover the Marikana story from all possible angles. The first highlights the social injustices encountered during and in the aftermath of Marikana. The second gives salience to political issues brought forward by Marikana and the last emphasises the effect Marikana has had on the South African economy.
The first article is from Daily Maverick ( a South African, independent online newspaper, owned by a private company. The article ( Apartheid and The Marikana Murder Charges: A Common Purpose Indeed, is framed within an Apartheid context; comparing Marikana to events during apartheid. People reading this piece will react negatively to Marikana, given this frame, because that is the general response to any news reminiscent of Apartheid. There is evident agenda-setting in this article given the frame. By framing the piece within apartheid, the writer is calling on the reader to be outraged; drawing on public perception that things that happened during apartheid should not be happening now.
This article is an example of priming because it starts with the concept of common purpose in apartheid. Apartheid alone has many negative connotations. Then it discusses common purpose with regards to Marikana. The way in which the audience reacts to the information presented or the activation tags developed in the first part of the article are carried onto the second part of the article.
This article does not try for objectivity, immediately taking a viewpoint against the court ruling. In that respect one could say that the article is biased, it takes for granted the public’s opinion on common purpose. Although the article is morally right in assuming that opinion, as a news article, it could have been more objective, highlighting possible reasons the court ruled in favour of common purpose.
The second article is from The Nation (, an American weekly magazine owned by The Nation Company. South Africa’s Marikana Moment ( ) was also published in the October, 8th Edition of their magazine. Because the magazine is American, it appears as if there is not much agenda-setting, considering the piece is politically-oriented. But because Marikana was an international story, there are hints of agenda-setting where the article draws on existing unrest between the ANC and the public.
This article is framed within a political context. It focuses more on the party in power, the ANC, does not draw much parallel between apartheid and Marikana and seems to think the parallels drawn between the two to be over-exaggerated. It emphasizes international and local belief that there is evident need for change in government but there is no worthy opponent.
It is a very well primed piece, drawing attention away from apartheid, insisting instead that the issues at Marikana were more politically and economically oriented. The author primes the audience away from apartheid to issues the South African government is dealing with now, the issues he thinks are more important. The article uses Marikana as a way to give salience to issues not obvious before and provides possible solutions.
By priming the audience for a political approach, the article is news because even though there had been articles about political issues, none of the others delved as deeply into the issues the ANC faces in the aftermath of Marikana.
This article tries for objectivity by not blaming the ANC for Marikana but it is evident that although not abjectly against the ANC, the author does believe that for change to occur; there is need for political change. Because of this, the article is biased but not overtly so. It does take advantage of popular belief that there is need for political change in South Africa.
The last article is from the Mail & Guardian ( a South African weekly newspaper owned by M&G Media. It is a self-owned, independent newspaper. The article, The Economic Impact of Marikana ( ) is a business-oriented piece, highlighting, as the title suggests, the economic impact of the events at Marikana.
Although the article does acknowledge the violence Marikana produced, it is more focused on the economic impact the event had on the country. The article gives salience to and is framed around problems in the government with regards to labour in relation to its impact on the economy. It primes the audience away from social aspects of Marikana and focuses more on the economic factors.
The article is still news because it introduces a new conflict to the Marikana event. Where some believe that Marikana had a negative impact on the economy, others believe otherwise; seeing the event as an eye-opener to the government forcing them to take a firmer hand with labour issues. By managing to point out both sides of the economic aftermath, the article avoids agenda-setting. Although the article points out weaknesses within the labour structure of the government, it is not against the government.
Of all the articles chosen, this is the most objective, but not completely. It suggests that Marikana did not have as bad an effect on the economy as is popular belief. Because it takes this particularly unpopular view, one could suggest that it does, to some extent, seem unbiased but, because it chooses a side, it is biased despite being the more unpopular view.
All the articles chosen offer a different picture of the same story and they are all news in their own respect. They are all examples of the different ways in which news can be conveyed, despite it being about the same event.

Tyra Banks: The Supreme of the Supers



Tyra Lynne Banks is an African-American model, author, actress, TV personality and philanthropist. She was born on the 4th of December 1973 in California, in the US. In 2007 she was named as one of the Times: 100 Most Influential People in the world.

She was the first black woman to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine’s Swimsuit Issue . Her rise to fame stemmed from this success as well as her appearance on the same cover the next year. She was also the first black woman to feature on the cover of GQ and in 1997 she was the first black woman chosen for the cover of Victoria’s Secret Catalogue. She was a Victoria’s Secret Angel from 1997 to 2005.

She started her own production company, Bankable Productions. Productions include The Tyra Banks Show which premiered 12 September 2005. The show was aimed towards young women and dealt with issues they face as they grow up and enter the world. Through the show, she reconstructed the meaning of ‘beautiful’ emphasizing that real women are not perfect and ridiculing the air-brushed image we’re fed through mainstream media.

After a picture of her looking over weight was released and circulated in the media. Tyra came out in that same bikini, during her show and told everyone that she emraced her curves and that women everywhere should.

She won, in 2008, the Daytime Emmy Award for The Tyra Banks Show and again in 2009. Oprah Wimphrey was among the people who believed that Tyra’s show was a constant inspiration for girls everywhere, and that Tyra herself was larger than life.

Another production by Bankable Productions was a movie, The Clique, based on popular teen novel series by Lisi Harrison.



As a philanthropist she established TZONE programme in 1999 aimed towards leadership and life skills development. She also funds the Tyra Banks Scholarship funding tuition for young African American girls at the prestigious, Immaculate Heart High School she attended.



The most successful TV show she produced with Bankable Productions was the Top Model franchise. Starting with the American counterpart, America’s Next Top Model, the brand has grown to epic proportions with Top Model shows in Asia and Europe. For America’s Next Top Model, she is creator, executive producer, host and head judge.

Her first novel, Modelland was on the New York Times Best Seller list in October 2011. It is a story about four girls accepted into a prestigious modelling school in the world of the book’s namesake, Modelland.



Despite much criticism Tyra Banks is inarguably on of the most influential women today. she has used her celebrity for good and is a role model for both young and old, women and men alike. She has delved where no other super model had before and opened doors for young women who like she once did, wish to be Top Models.

Keira Knightley to Play Coco Chanel

Chanel Logo

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of one of the biggest and most notable fashion houses in the world, Chanel, a film documenting the life Coco Chanel will be produced. Keira Knightley will be playing Chanel’s matriarch Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. The film will be directed by Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld is the head designer of Chanel among many other prominent fashion houses. He is also an artist, photographer and he has also acted in a few films. The film will be released at the Chanel Cruise Show in Singapore in early May later this year.

Keira Knightley and Karl Lagerfeld. Photo by: Gamma 40

Keira Knightley and Karl Lagerfeld. Photo by: Gamma 40

Lagerfeld, the director, is a German fashion designer, artist and photographer. Not only the creative director of Chanel he also heads Fendi a brand he joined in 1967 and his own label, Karl Lagerfeld launched in 1984 and sold to Tommy Hilfiger. Despite the sale he maintained the head creative director position. He once designed an H&M range for Chloe, as well as being head creative director for the fashion house in the 70s. He joined Chanel, for the first time, as head creative director-the position he still holds today- in 1993.

The film will be mostly based and filmed in Deauville, a seaside town in the North of France. The small town is home to the first Chanel boutique, opened in 1913 and financed by Coco’s lover Captain Arthur “Boy” Capel, a wealthy British aristocrat. Deauville’s former quaint beauty will be recreated through retro sets, Lagerfeld says. The town is also the town where Coco used to send her sister Antoinette and aunt Adrienne out in the streets to show off her designers and attract customers before she was famous.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is known as one of the most important women in fashion even today, 42 years after her death. Born in 1883, the fashion mogul, recreated her childhood, to hide from the public, the poverty she went through in the early years of her life. She also changed her birth date so that when she died she was 78 and not 88. The building that houses Coco Chanel’s apartment (although she lived at The Ritz Hotel in Paris for almost 30 years) was bought by Chanel in 1920. The building still has the ground floor shop, haute couture workrooms in the attic where 100 seamstresses still sew by hand. The building also includes Miss Chanel’s former study, now Lagerfeld’s. Chanel, the fashion house has the best-selling fragrance for women in the world, Chanel No.5.

The upcoming film will not be the first to be made about the mother of the modern woman’s fashion. Other films include the 2009 film, Coco Before Chanel, starring Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel. The film was directed by Anne Fontaine.

Keira Knightley as the Face of Coco Mademoiselle

Keira Knightley as the Face of Coco Mademoiselle

Keira Knightley, the British actress playing the role of the famed fashion designer is also the face of Coco Mademoiselle, a Chanel fragrance. She replaced Kate Moss in 2007. Lagerfeld handpicked her himself and has said on numerous occasions that the 27-year-old is his muse. He is currently working on Knightley’s dress for her upcoming marriage to James Righton a British musician. The 27 year old’s most notable works include the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Pride and Prejudice (for which she received an Oscar nomination) and the recent film Anna Karenina based on a novel (of the same name) by Russian author Leo Tolstoy published in 1877.

CFDA Fashion Awards: ‘The Oscars of fashion’

The Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) was founded in 1962 by Eleanor Lambert, founding mother of New York Fashion Week, Fashion designer and arguably the most important woman in American Fashion. She is said to be the woman who put American fashion on the map because before the fashion week, people only paid attention to French and Italian fashion. The CFDA is a non-profit association of over 450 prominent American Fashion designers.

The CFDA awards are given to the designers who exhibited the best works in the different categories the previous year, Designers who win are awarded for the most fashionable and innovative collections of the year. Winners are nominated and voted for by members of the CFDA and a select portion of the most prominent names in fashion including some fashion magazines, stylists and fashion retailers.

The nominees this year were announced at an exclusive event in New York City, United States of America. The event was hosted by fellow designers Diane von Furstenberg and Nadja Swarovski.

There are 8 categories, 3 of which, have their winners announced at the event. The categories where winners are announced at the event are, The International Award, awarded to the best designer who is not american. Last year it went to Rei Kawakubo a Japanese Designer. he was awarded for his ‘Commes des Garcons’ collection. Other awards include: the Emerging Talent Award for Ready to Wear and the Geoffery Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented by Vera Wang this year. Geofferey Beene was a 4-time CFDA award winning fashion designer.

The are 3 nominated awards, whose winners will be announced at the event. The Women’s wear of the year award nominees, are Jack McCollough, Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs and Lazaro Hernandez for Proenza Schoeler. For the Men’s Wear of The Year Award, the nominees are Steve Cox & Daniel Silver for Duckie Brown, Michael Bastian, and Thom Browne.

Accessory Designer of the Year Award nominations got to: Phillip Lim for 3.1, Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez for Proenza Schoeler.

The Founder’s Award, given in honour of the CFDA’s founder, Eleanor Lambert, goes to Oscar de la Renta this year. There are also the Swarovski Awards for the best jewellery designs.

The CFDA Fashion Awards this year will be held on the 3rd of June at the Lincoln Center in New York City. There will be a digital broadcast on on the 4th of June. the first broadcast event was in 2011 and was aired on as well.

For more information on the CFDA Awards visit:

Biggest Trends: Fashion Week Autumn/ Winter 2013

As the weather gets colder, our sleeves get longer and looking at the top trends from the recent Autumn/ Winter Fashion Weeks, we have much too look forward to. Looking at some of the trending pieces this season, it is evident that fashion usually draws from the past for inspiration. This season the most notable shapes we have are inspired by the middle ages, the 20s, the 50s, and the 90s punk culture.

1. The Shoulders
This season’s favourite body part is the shoulders, from the padded shoulders of last year, now have round shoulders. This new style draws on middle ages couture. I’m not very convinced myself about this particular shape as I believe it makes the body look rounder, which most people don’t particularly like.

Another trend accentuating the shoulders was capes, much like the asymetrical skirts that were trending spring/ summer 2012.

In lieu with the emphasis on shoulders, the U-A-B (under arm bags) were another big trend.

2. The New Suit
Although there were plenty of traditional suits, the classic jacket/ blazer with skirt, there was also a lot of pencil skirts paired with sweaters/ jumpers. From long pencil skirts, that reach mid-calf to knee-lengths, the pencil skirt was a big trend, in many different materials. For the jumpers, any material from wool to faux-fur works.

4. Sex
All designers brought kinky back in all shapes. Using PVC, vinyl and latex, the aim was to create the sexiest outfit possible. This trend has ties with the spring/ summer leather trend. In clothing that looked to be a second skin, models showcased the erotic-inspired trend. Leather makes a comeback as a big trend this season as well.

5. Colour
Where orange was the main spring/ summer colour, royal blue was winter’s crowning glory. A good choice for winter, because despite its calmness (compared to orange) it is still bright enough a colour to stand out. Another loudly royal colour that graced the catwalks (especially in Milan) was gold.

Other colours that stood out were an entire spectrum from soft pinks, to deep crimsons. These colours give the cooler seasons a warm glow.

Polka dots also coloured the catwalks across many designers. It seems as if one cannot go wrong with colour this season.

6. Upsize coats
The relaxed silhouettes make a come-back this season in large man-ish coats. This is my favourite trend of the season. I like the comfort it affords and the warmth it promises. Although like the rounded shoulders, relaxed silhouettes hide the body’s shape; I still prefer them over the round shoulders because where they look almost grunge chic, the round shoulders look round.

7. Animal Magic
Animal print is the print of the season and works on anything especially cardigans.

Faux-Fur is back. During the fashion weeks there was a lot of fur, from coats, to scarves, to coat collars, fur works both as an accent and an item. Another big thing about fur this season is that it came in different textures. So faux-mink fur looked different from bengal tiger fur.

Feathers were a new trend, reminiscent of the 1920s.

For more reads on the Autumn/ Winter Collections:

Biggest Spring/Summer Trends from Fashion week

Because Fashion Week showcases the clothing of the upcoming season during the current season, the recent fashion week in February presented trends for the upcoming ( for the Northern Hemisphere) Fall/ Autumn; the season we, in the South, are currently in. I shall be noting the biggest trends from the September 2012 Fashion week, trends for the Northen Hemisphere, and the ways in which those of us in the South can use them to our advantage whilst its still warm. Imaxtree
1. Leather
The bondage or S&M inspired look graced the catwalk in what one could term as a 50 Shades of Grey look. From layered leather, leather jackets to leather pannelling on shirts, one cannot go wrong with leather in the upcoming season.
Leather is especially special because it can be worn both in warm and cold weather and is, therefor perfect whether in the north or south.
2. Color
Catwalks everywhere seemed to be wild fields of color. Orange stood out in the New york fashion week. Designers seemed to favour monochromatic outfits, outfits with the same colour palate. So for example, one can wear green pants of a differnet shade from their green blouse.
Colour, in my opinion works in all seasons. It’s always nice to brighten up your mood with a bright coloured coat on a dreary, rainy day. And there’s nothing like a bright summer’s day, in even brighter colours.
3. Prints
The summer dress in muted florals, or cotton pants with floral patterns are in this season. Floral shirts work as well. Any clothing item with print on it is trending this season. A suggestion for when you happen to be wearing an item with print; it always looks so much less “crazy” if paired with a stable colour. So if wearing a print dress, it would be advisable to settle for a cardigan with a single colour, or, if that’s too boring, you can always pair it with stripes.
4. Stripes
Vertical, diagonal, horizantal… It doesn’t matter which way they go as long as they are stripes. Stripes can work in any season and are therefor, easy to carry on from summer to winter.
5. Midriffs
This is a trend that has been very prominent here in South Africa, what with the heat we’ve been experiencing. But as the weather cools down it’s not a very informed idea to wear a crop-top. Personally, I have not been much of a crop-top fan. I believe that just because something is the trend doesn’t mean you have to wear it. If you know that you don’t exactly have the body for a particular trend, it does not make you unfashionable if you don’t wear it.
6. Relaxed silhouttes
There was a lot of eastern inspired looks at fashion week which would work well both in summer and winter. The eastern looks includes relaxed silhouettes. There were lots of sheer shirts, an item that is still trending in South Africa right now.
Other big trends included the colour, white, which featured in a lot of shows, denim (another big hit in South Africa), flat open shoes (because there is nothing worse than having sweaty feet). Baseball caps, in all shapes sizes and colours are also trending.

For more trends:

The Telegraph Fashion: New York Fashion Week Spring/ Summer 2013

The Telegraph Fashion: London Fashion Week Spring/ Summer 2013

Harper’s Bazaar: The Spring 2013 Runway Report

Marie Claire: Spring 2013 Fashion Trends