The March issue of Vogue Espana goes right down my lane of things that I love to write about.
What makes this issue interesting is not simply because the cover model is black(her name is Aya Jones and we won’t even talk about that fact that she is rockin’ cornrows which is all kinds of dopeness). Black cover models are not something entirely new for the publication. They have had black cover models before. There may have only been a few(Liya Kebede & Naomi Campbell to name a couple), but still, this is not completely foreign for them.
What has me pleasantly surprised and pleased is what the main and sub headlines read: La Reina de Africa followed by Black is Beautiful(in English might I add).
For those of you not living in Spain, this is a pretty major statement for this country. For Spain to be the European country closest to Africa, I am still surprised at how many black people I don’t see. I knew prior to moving here that the racial landscape was pretty homogeneous. I knew that I may get some stares on the metro, get approached by men based off their gross little fetishes in regards to black women and my students might have curiosities about my hair.
The lack of diversity is not even brought about a lot because there’s simply not enough black people to make it an issue. There are black people and neighborhoods with more black residents than others, but not enough to make Spaniards “uncomfortable”. I know that prejudices surrounding black people do exist here though. I know it because I’ve heard stories about how African immigrants are treated and perceived and even experiences from fellow black Americans living in Spain.
Living here, I am always aware that I am a representation of what it means to be a black woman, even more so than in the U.S. You may think that this may be uncomfortable at times but it hasn’t been so far. Although I would love to see more people who look like me, the reality is, is that there aren’t. Often, I am the only black person in a restaurant, bar, or on the metro. I look different but I don’t mind being a unicorn(haha).
With all of this said, I am so happy to see Vogue Espana make such a bold statement on the March cover. BUT, my hope is that this slogan of “Black is beautiful” which has always been a theme within the black community for so long, is not treated like a trend of the moment. Black is beautiful indeed and it has taken a long time for mainstream media to catch on to this fact. I hope that when Spaniards read this headline that they understand that “Black is beautiful” doesn’t mean that white or any other race isn’t beautiful, it’s just that black women and our beauty ALSO belong on the cover of magazines, theirs included. Although there’s not a lot of representation here in Spain, WE ARE HERE. There are little black girls in Spain that need to see this. In fact, there are grown women in Spain that need to see this. It’s all about inclusion and that matters so much.
It would be so great to get to a point where it’s silly to have to even praise a magazine for something that should already be known. But until then, I will clap for any type of progression that celebrates all types of beauty.