You can tell when a magazine is featuring a black actress with her real hair. Usually it’s in a special issue dedicated to “real” (i.e. not thin and white) women, or it has a headline like, “Such-and-such actress gets real.” Basically the word “real” is thrown around a lot and it’s code for “we’re not really going to do this all the time because we have a eurocentric standard of beauty to uphold, but here’s this.”
One of the most annoying things about all this, to me, is the idea that you can’t do a high caliber beauty editorial without the use of significant hair alterations. And if you try, you have to use the word “real” to kind of lower expectations.
Kerry Washington is the covergirl for the November issue of Allure. The article is mostly about her transition away from her iconic role as Olivia Pope in Scandal (the show is in its last season) and her hair isn’t referenced until the fifth paragraph (and even then only in passing.)
Meanwhile several shots in the accompanying editorial are done with Washington’s real hair.
I’m here for the normalization of black hair.