Black People : Polishing Brown Diamonds

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    Polishing Brown Diamonds
    African American Women, Popular Magazines, and the Advent of Modeling in Early Postwar America

    Journal of Women's History - Volume 17, Number 1, 2005, pp. 10-37

    Laila Haidarali


    This article examines the advent of modeling as a profession for African American women. This new career resulted from two developments in early postwar America: the needs of advertisers and the rise of African American photographic magazines. While modeling expanded the economic opportunities open to African American women, the profession proscribed those careers within a middle-class value system of marriage, motherhood, and domesticity. Despite the conservative definitions of feminized beauty and heterosexual appeal, the image of the "Brownskin" model—an exemplar of social, sexual, and racial parity—challenged white representations of African America. At once liberating in its redress of racist stereotyping, and confining in its narrow dictates of racialized gender expectations, this postwar visual discourse allows an understanding of an era when African America began to visualize a different public racial reality.
    In 1969, the New York Times declared the work of Ophelia DeVore in training hundreds of African American women in the skills of modeling as "Polishing Black Diamonds." Reflecting on her twenty-three years at the DeVore School of Charm, Ophelia DeVore—the first African American professional model by some accounts—described the women attending the school as "rough diamonds," and her mission as "polish[ing] them and show[ing] up their individual lustre." By contemporary standards the "rough diamond" metaphor is somewhat clichéd, but the newspaper article illustrates the late 1960s celebratory view of African American women's beauty as not only obscured and uncultivated, but also as potentially dazzling. "Polishing Black Diamonds" reflected on the growth of African American modeling from its inception in the mid-1940s to its then burgeoning state. Beginning in 1946, the DeVore School of Charm presented skills deemed essential for those in the modeling industry—namely charm, poise, and elegance—as democratic ideals to be purchased and displayed by "ordinary" African American women as both symbols of, and avenues to, success.1 Although the designation of "Black" reflects the period's usage of the term, this study attends to the early postwar era when it was not the "Black," but rather the "Brown" diamond who was being polished. On the eve of the civil rights movement, this "Brown" diamond emerged in [End Page 10] the gendered image of the "Brownskin" who exemplified the dominant ideal of African American womanhood. Far from being presented as an unattainable standard, "Brownskin" womanhood was cast as possible for all "rough diamonds."

    In early postwar America, social and economic success seemed to be awaiting "rough diamonds" or "ordinary" African American women who witnessed an increase in employment opportunities and in economic gain. Small in comparison to those experienced by white America, these improvements were largely restricted to those in urban and Northern centers. However limited and limiting, postwar advances brought new opportunities for members of the race, especially for women. Between 1940 and 1950, the number of African American women employed as domestics dropped from 60 percent to 41 percent; by 1960, that number fell even more significantly to 36 percent. Accompanying this decline was the relative growth of African American women in clerical work.2 Between 1870 and 1930, clerical work became increasingly gendered and racialized as white female labor. Additionally, clerical work grew ever more tied to class-bound notions of respectability deemed the sole possession of white women.3 Not only were African American women viewed as lacking middle-class morals and manners "necessary" for white-collar work, but racist attitudes also kept white employees and customers "safe" from African American workers. When hired, African American women were slotted into clerical positions that restricted interracial contact.4 Although these prejudices did not disappear after 1945, and African American women did not flood the clerical labor force, there was a modest increase in white-collar workers among African American women; this was largely the combined result of organized urban protest, the rise of liberal consensus, and demographic changes.5 Whereas in 1940, white women comprised 24 percent of the clerical labor force, African American women represented less than 1 percent of workers in this field. By 1950, those numbers changed to 31 percent and 4 percent respectively; by 1960, statistics showed 33 percent of white and 8 percent of African American women working as "clerical and kindred workers."6 Small, but perceptible, the movement of some African American women into previously white enclaves enhanced their visibility and tested their viability as middle-class, white-collar workers.7

    The growth of the African American female clerical workforce augmented the already heavy burden carried by women. While the segregated clerical and sales labor market traditionally employed more African American men than women, the feminization of clerical work and its prescriptions of middle-class respectability translated into greater opportunities for African American women.8 For example, in 1950, African American women comprised 4 percent of the clerical workforce, with 3 percent [End Page 11] of African American men being employed in like positions; by 1960 those numbers changed to 8 percent and 5 percent respectively.9 As a result, the onus rested on women to prove the race worthy of social integration and white-collar status; this "proof" involved imparting an image of clean, respectable, middle-class femininity. Although good grooming did not constitute a new formula for social advancement, the discourse assumed new relevance in the postwar era.10 Directed at a generation supposedly on the brink of full civil liberties, prescriptions on middle-class African American femininity were fleshed out in mass-circulated photographic magazines. In the decade immediately following the war, "rough diamonds" or "ordinary" African American women witnessed a series of images and ideas that lauded respectable femininity, consumptive lifestyle, and heterosexual fulfillment as the measure of African American womanhood.

    The displays of professional African American models assisted the "rough diamond" in cultivating femininity, poise, and charm. Professional models most often emerged in the body of the "Brownskin"—a heterosexual and feminine creature who was visibly African American and virtuously middle-class. "Brownskin" models permeated the pages of another postwar invention, Ebony magazine. Here, the "Brownskin's" stylized display of respectable, feminized heterosexuality embodied the crowning glory of an attendant African American middle class. If that were not enough in the way of popular guidance for the "rough diamond" to learn how to polish her image and to acquire the necessary skills to negotiate her way on the horizon of the promised land, then charm and modeling schools offered further assistance. These schools advanced beauty and poise as necessary commodities to succeed in the expectant postwar climate. These three entities—the "Brownskin" model, the medium of the photographic magazine, and the mentoring of the charm and modeling school—disseminated a new understanding of African American womanhood on the eve of the civil rights era.

    Model, medium, and mentor intertwined to form a class-bound discourse on African American women's social and sexual status. The apex of this tripartite transmission was the image of the "Brownskin," whose centrality to the commodification of poise, charm, and femininity is the focus of this article. Ubiquitous in early postwar popular magazines, the gendered image of the "Brownskin" became a signifier of democratic promise by representing economic and social triumph in a period when these goals remained unfulfilled for many African Americans. Grounding the birth of the "Brownskin" in the search for advertising appeals to African American consumers, this article demonstrates how the modeling profession positioned African American women in the concomitant roles of the feminized worker and the domestic, heterosexual homemaker. [End Page 12]

    The "Brownskin" remained central to the visual discourse that exhibited African Americans as successful, well-dressed, and attractive, but that did not forge a racial identity wholly independent from white America. The "Brownskin" occupied the middle space of being visibly "black," but not too dark-skinned to disrupt dominant aesthetic values. Although the imagery most certainly did not overturn notions of womanhood as heterosexual, feminine, and respectable, it reclaimed these attributes from the sole possession of white women. Conservative elements continued to contour the postwar visual discourse, but this imagery can nonetheless be understood as an important juncture in the formation of racial identity through the eyes of African Americans. Photographic magazines such as Ebony attempted to overturn the racist stereotyping of African American women as dark-skinned, unattractive mammies, maids, and laundresses by endowing the "Brownskin" with attributes historically denied African American women—beauty, poise, and success. And while the "Brownskin" exhibited her sexual attractiveness and heterosexual fulfillment, the performance occurred within the parameters of the African American community, simultaneously freeing her from the unwanted advances of white men and confining her identity to the needs of the race. At once libratory in its attempted redress of racist stereotyping and restrictive in its narrow dictates of racialized gender expectations, this postwar visual discourse allows us to glean some understanding of an era when African America began to visualize a different public racial reality, with the "Brownskin" woman—the polished "Brown" diamond—at its center.

    Advertising the Brownskin
    The birth of the "Brownskin" as a particularly gendered and commodified representation emerged from the needs of advertisers to attract a newly important demographic: the African American consumer. In the early 1940s, white businesses recognized that the growing incomes of this demographic equaled enhanced consumer power. This new prosperity among African Americans was relative to advances made by whites in the same period. White racism undoubtedly continued to limit opportunities available to African Americans, but the financial improvements experienced by many, during and after World War II, are well documented by historians. The continuous African American migration to the North between 1941 and 1960 occurred largely for the same reasons as the earlier "Great Migration"—declining agricultural conditions, virulent racism, and the promise of better jobs.11 The added stimulus in the latter period emerged from wartime economic opportunities that spiked wages to a historic high.12 Buoyed by new promises of economic opportunity, African [End Page 13] American populations in the rural South decreased, transferring themselves mostly to urban centers in the North, the West, and also in the South. The changing demography resulted in an increasing urbanization of the African American population: between 1940 and 1950 African American urban inhabitants increased by 46 percent.13

    During the war years, David J. Sullivan, an African American market researcher whose study of African American consumers achieved some attention, rose as the expert analyst of the "Negro Market."14 By 1945, Sullivan provided numbers to underscore the importance of this neglected demographic. Without citing his source, Sullivan approximated that African American incomes amounted to $10.29 billion or $779 per capita.15 Indeed, median incomes of "Negro[es] and other races" climbed from $489 in 1939 to $1,448 in 1947. While this rise was a far cry from the white median income of $1,325 and $2,999 in the same years, it was still significant.16 Those who had ignored the African American consumer potential could no longer continue to do so. Indeed, the "Negro Market" did not intrigue all; some businesses made little effort to lure this "new" consumer, but for those who desired to do so, help was available.

    Framing the discussion as the "Negro Market," business periodicals explored the most effective ways to secure this demographic. One important article appeared in a 1943 issue of Sales Management; it cautioned, "Don't Do This—If You Want to Sell Your Products to Negroes!" and provided ten examples of negative stereotyping that repelled the race-proud consumer. The article, written by Sullivan, provided ten factors to avoid in such advertising. Ranging from the avoidance of "exaggerated Negro characters, with flat noses, thick lips, kinky hair," to not offending the clergy, Sullivan's fifth point was specific in its address of the representation of African American women. Denouncing the term "Negress"—and its host of meanings—as antiquated, Sullivan pointed to the denigrating images of African American women as "buxom, broad-faced, grinning mammies and Aunt Jemimas." In providing the ameliorative, Sullivan asserted that representations of "laundresses, cooks, and domestic servants" presented a limited vision of African American women's work.17 Sullivan's assessment confirmed the findings of what historian Robert Weems Jr. considers one of the "first truly systematic studies of African American consumers."18 Authored by Paul K. Edwards, a white economics professor at Fisk University, this 1932 study assessed consumption patterns among a cross-section of African American Southern urban consumers. The Southern Urban Negro as Consumer highlighted negative consumer reactions to advertisements that employed images of African Americans. The study presented advertisements that displayed images of African Americans to urban African American Southerners, and asked for their [End Page 14] assessment of its "appeal"; two of these images employed the image of women as laundresses, and one represented the now-notorious Aunt Jemima. Consistently ranked as a reason for disfavor with the images was the demeaning position of African Americans as menial workers, subservient and inferior to whites. Additionally, the representation of the African American female as a "big, fat colored woman"—the mammy image—offended almost all who cited the "red kerchief" and earrings as deterrents to their purchase of the product. Many respondents found these outmoded and inflammatory images restored ideas of slavery. The responses gathered from Edwards's study on "selling appeals" reflected that consumers yearned for new, race-proud representations.19

    Sullivan's marketers' warning "Don't Do This" reinforced these earlier academic findings. While Edwards made implicit references to skin tone, and the "exaggerate[d] . . . color of the Negro," by 1943, Sullivan made explicit these meanings. He warned white advertisers about the use of skin tone in their advertisements; Sullivan argued: "By no means color them black. Use brown-skinned girls for illustrations; then you satisfy all."20 The invocation of brownskin as the happy medium appears consistently throughout the period, and it was the period's dominant construction of African American womanhood celebrated in images, texts, and popular understanding. Sullivan's advisement on the use of brownskin models reflects the cultural prevalence of the "Brownskin" as the happiest negotiator of race, class, sex, and gender.

    Brandford Models: "Another Step Up"
    The need for brown-skinned women to advertise goods to the new "Negro Market" ignited the birth, and growth, of modeling as a profession opened to African American women. Brandford Models, the first African American agency, opened in New York City in July 1946. One caption in an unidentified newspaper heralded the event as "Another Step Up: First Agency for Negro Models Opens," and quoted actor Canada Lee's assessment that this was "an historic moment in our lives, and also . . . a new era in the advertising field."21 Edward Brandford, a commercial photographer and the agency's founder, emphasized the paucity of attention paid to African American consumers despite their "vast spending power." His particular concern was the plight of African American female consumers who "in their buying have never had proper guidance, [and] have always been neglected."22 This statement reiterated the findings of market researchers such as Sullivan and economists such as Edwards who underscored the deficient efforts of advertisers to attract an African American clientele. It also positioned the role of women, as both models to advertise [End Page 15] products and consumers to purchase these commodities, as central to a middle-class consumptive lifestyle.

    When Brandford Models opened in 1946, the availability of cosmetics to African American women was not the primary concern; these products had long been peddled to African American women.23 According to Mary Louise Yabro, one of Brandford's agency's fashion stylists, the crucial missing component was advice on cosmetic use. Yabro defined one of the agency's roles as ameliorating the paucity of "proper fashion and beauty guidance," and noted that the unique "problems in makeup and clothes" facing African American women were too long overlooked. In the interest of "giving fair play to the Negro," Yabro underscored the need for Brandford Models to provide such guidance.24 By employing the language of "fair play," Yabro implied that by appropriating the right image African American women could more easily achieve success through the use of the correct cosmetics and clothing. Indeed, this view reflects the more general therapeutic consumerist ethos emitted to American society as a whole,25 but according to Yabro's assessment, it was the deficiency of advice directed at African American women that hindered social and economic success.

    "Another Step Up" was optimistic in its assessment of Brandford Models' ability to overturn the barriers facing African Americans in the early postwar period—the article's reporter cheerfully concluded that "one more barrier to economic freedom for the American Negro was lifted."26 While the need for African American models to advertise goods played an essential role in the opening of Brandford Models, the vehicle for the display of models was equally important. In an atmosphere of postwar optimism, African American popular magazines emerged as a stage for models to display consumer goods and assisted in constructing a new visual discourse of urban middle-class African America.

    The Rise of Ebony
    Constructed in response to advertisers' needs, the gendered body of the "Brownskin" materialized into a glossy, photographic representation of heterosexually respectable African American womanhood. The expansion of photography and the emergence of Ebony, the first popular magazine geared at a specifically African American audience, popularized a new visual discourse on middle-class life with the "Brownskin" woman at its center. First appearing in November 1945, Ebony presented to its readers a celebratory vision of middle-class African America. Clearly stated in its inaugural issue in November 1945, Ebony's editorial stance mirrored the views of its publisher John H. Johnson. The editors declared themselves to be "rather jolly folks" who wished to accent "all the swell things [End Page 16]. . . Negroes can do and will accomplish." The editorial pledged: "Ebony will try to mirror the happier side of Negro life—the positive, everyday achievements from Harlem to Hollywood. But when we talk about race as the No. 1 problem in America, we'll talk turkey."27 This significant departure from the long history of the African American press as the voice of protest against racial injustice did not initially curtail the magazine's success. Indeed, Ebony flourished as one of the most widely circulated African American popular magazines of the period reaching a circulation of 500,000 by 1954.28 But after this crescendo, sales plummeted; by 1954 the magazine's formulaic, optimistic depiction of African American life was out of synchronicity with the growing movement for civil rights. Under great social pressure, Ebony's post-1954 gaze sharpened into a more politically militant focus.

    At the outset, Ebony provided a racial corrective to its prototype Life; its glossy pages displayed prosperity, consumerism, and "Brownskin" beauties, thereby sustaining dominant ideals and furnishing proof of middle-class African America. While Ebony exaggerated the reality of economic attainment, the impact of these images on the African American psyche cannot be overstated. In a country where the mass-produced, public, visual representation of African America—if at all visible—was mostly a disparaging one, Ebony's photos of successful, exquisitely groomed and dressed men and women opened a window into a different world. Furthermore, if one flipped through the pages of Ebony, these images were in continuous motion rather than in isolated display. The tangibility of the magazine, the movement of the pages, and the persistence of the "Brownskin" photographic image diverged from depictions of successful "Brownskins" in film, most notably Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge. No doubt, the film images of these two entertainers—both commonly featured in Ebony—profoundly influenced African Americans, but the medium elicited a different sensory perception. Within the magazine—a physical and permanent consumer good—the repetitive and recurrent imagery stressed the reality of economic, social, and sexual well-being. Ebony magazine laid before its readers the American dream as a kaleidoscopic racialized spectacle of American achievement.29

    Through its images and stories of successful women and men, Ebony furnished evidence that prosperity and social achievement, unattained by many African Americans in the period, was possible. Ebony reaffirmed the liberal ideal of economic opportunity and championed a capitalistic system that ignored the unequal structures maintaining the economic divide. Surely many readers were frustrated by their distance from Ebony's depiction of African American life, but the proof that some members of the race achieved economic well-being and some had indeed obtained a [End Page 17] piece of the American pie may have renewed belief in racial progress. Ebony's great success reveals that African Americans either believed, or wanted to believe, or at the very least were entertained by, such displays of middle-class comfort and consumerism.

    Ebony, Advertising, and African American Models
    Although Ebony proved a crucial site for white businesses to sell their goods to the "Negro Market," the use of "Brownskin" models in advertisements was far from automatic. In his autobiography, John H. Johnson recalled the difficulties in attaining advertisers in the first years of the magazine, and his aggressiveness in both the recruitment of advertising accounts and the encouragement of the use of African American models. Despite the research defining the "Negro Market," Johnson demonstrated that many white businesses needed further coaxing to make such investments.30 "Duplicate advertising"—the practice of substituting African American models for white—allowed companies to keep cost low: while layout and planning remained the same, the only necessary change was the model. These strategic maneuvers on the part of white businesses translated into new revenue, but for Ebony readers, the effects were profound; "duplicate advertising" illustrated that African American people could successfully be placed in the same psychic space as whites, thus mediating the racial divide emblematic of the American social order.

    Although the marketing space that African American popular magazines provided facilitated the growth of modeling agencies, the direct call for models remained limited and provided mostly part-time work. One model considered herself lucky to secure a thirty-hour-a-week position as a fur model in a Seventh Avenue shop. Noting the precarious nature of the business, Elaine Brooks explained to the New York Post that "fashion and commercial modelling just isn't stable enough for a Negro. As far as I know I'm the only Negro model on Seventh Avenue in any kind of wholesale business."31 Jamaican-born Brooks represented one of the lucky ones who found steady, although not the most prestigious, employment. Another ambivalent success story was that of Bostonian-turned-New Yorker Muriel French who, in 1955, was one of the top African American models in America, earning between $5,000 and $6,000 a year. French also deemed modeling an insecure profession for African American women, and, similar to many others, maintained her position as a receptionist.32

    Ebony's September 1954 issue questioned, "Can Negro Models Make the Bigtime?" The article pointed to the industry's expansion and the doubling of incomes from the 1949 rate of $5 per hour to the 1954 average of $10 per hour, with a select few models making an hourly wage of $25. One [End Page 18] model working in the period noted that African American and white models engaged "the same rates very often," and cited the irregularity of work, rather than the actual pay, as the true hindrance for African American models.33 Ebony concluded that "out of the 200 or more Negro women and men who model regularly or in spare time in New York City, a handful have emerged from the glamor masses."34 Citing New York City as the base for 80 percent of the modeling industry, the article also pointed to the opportunities for African American models in Los Angeles and Chicago, although these assignments were often less prestigious. Although models in New York City landed positions as photographic models for magazine advertisements and fashion layouts, those in Los Angeles "lead a more precarious existence, depending on fashion shows, demonstration jobs in five & dime stores, combination sales-model work in smaller concerns."35 One year later, the New York Post featured a segment entitled "All About Negro Models," underscoring the continued resistance to African American female representations. The use of Negro models, the Post noted, should not be attributed to "a sudden seizure of social consciousness" but rather to "simple economic facts of life" that propelled "one big industry after another into the field of 'duplicate advertising.'"36

    The demand for African American models was not the only limitation facing those in the industry. When advertisers sought out African American models, they demanded a particular type of woman. Not only did height and weight and curvaceousness count, but so too did color. Working against the popular contemporary conception that fairness of skin was a premium, advertisers heeded Sullivan's advice and relied on brown-skinned models to advertise their products.

    Preference for the "Brownskin" did not translate into complete disqualification of dark- or light-skinned models—it simply made their efforts, especially for the former, more difficult. At times, lighter-skinned models were preferred over women with dark skin tones. Indeed, Sylvia Fitt, described by Ebony as one of the period's top models, was fairer than the average "Brownskin," occasionally being described as "olive" rather than "brown"-skinned.37 Generally, however, models on either side of the brownskin scale—those who were darker- or lighter-skinned—had greater difficulty negotiating their professional careers. One such model was Lucille Rich, a twenty-three-year-old woman, who the New York Post writer designated as "stunningly pretty." Nonetheless, Rich described her fair skin as a "disadvantage." She stated: "I've been told by clients I'm too fair for the typical Negroid type. . . . They'll call the agency and say, 'Send us a girl we know is colored.'38 Another model, Marion Baker, confirmed that advertisers sustained a preconception of a "typical Negroid type." Possessing a bone structure and features commonly associated with whites, [End Page 19] Baker often lost modeling assignments because she was not "typical enough" as a Negro model. Baker recalled that while posing for an advertisement for a cigarette company, she was photographed "from a different angle just to give [her] nose a broader look." Baker rationalized: "It didn't make me look as good as I can, but that's what they seem to want."39 Another example emerges in the experiences of Ophelia DeVore, who appears in swimwear in Figure 1. Her 1940s entry into modeling at the age of fifteen presented little difficulty because of her fair skin. Triracial in ancestry—Native American, European, and African—DeVore's fair skin and unusual features made her a desirable model who photographed white.40 Although DeVore never declared herself to the agency as African American, and never admitted to passing, she stated in a 1969 article in Sepia: "I found out later that they basically thought I had a suntan, . . . I had no idea. I just thought they knew what I knew."41

    Darker-skinned women also faced problems in the industry, although there are few examples of these experiences. These models appeared infrequently in such publications as Jet and Ebony; throughout the period, the majority of models are described as "tan" or "brown-skinned." One reference to dark-skinned models appears in the September 1954 Ebony article "Can Negro Models Make the Bigtime?" and demonstrates the use of African American women as "manikins" for illustrators. Although photography remained the popular medium for magazine advertisements, hand-drawn illustrations persisted throughout the era. When using illustrations in lieu of photographs, African American models possibly presented a cheaper alternative, but as demonstrated earlier, there was no disparity in wages earned by African American and white models.

    Mainstream white magazines such as True Story and Redbook, as well as "pocket books," often employed African American models to pose for illustrators, but as Ebony demonstrated, "in the final illustrations, colored models appeared to be white."42 Ebony related the employment of Tina Marshall, "a dark skinned exotic-featured New Yorker," as an artist's model for a Marlboro advertisement. Marshall "was made to appear white in [the] final picture" because "[a]rtists often ignore color, say[ing] they are primarily interested in [the] features of [the] model."43 Implicit in this assessment is the use of darker-skinned models to appropriate a certain typology of womanhood without pronouncing racial identification. The example of the Marlboro advertisement is especially telling; it employed the image of a dark-skinned African American woman to render its depiction of a female cigarette smoker. By 1950s standards, this female consumer would be epitomized by sophisticated and mature femininity—the domain of white womanhood.44 The whitening out of blackness, so easily achieved by the artist's pen, effectively erased the presence of African [End Page 20] American women in white mainstream media; such practices reinforced ideas that beauty, sexual attractiveness, and sophistication were the sole possessions of white women. This erasure demonstrates the continued failure to equate beauty with African American women; it also highlights the importance of the new visual discourse of the "Brownskin."

    Click for larger view Figure 1
    Ophelia DeVore, Swimwear, 1938. Courtesy of The Collection of Ophelia DeVore, Ophelia DeVore Associates, Inc., New York, NY.

    "Is It True What They Say about Models?"
    The "Brownskin" model's display of femininity, beauty, and heterosexual appeal asserted her attractiveness and middle-class respectability, but the exhibition of the female body did not escape criticism. As Joanne Meyerowitz has demonstrated, women's responses to Ebony's and Negro Digest's"cheesecake" images were hardly unilateral. In a study of letters to the editor, Meyerowitz shows that reactions ranged from disgust at the [End Page 21] "immoral" displays to appreciation of the "racial advancement" of beauty as inclusive of African American women.45 Capturing this ambivalence about the display of the African American female body, Ebony addressed and attempted to overturn the myths surrounding the women who posed for these photographs.

    The need to refute the immorality associated with modeling was especially acute for African American women who already battled disparaging, racist sexual stereotyping. Enticing the reader with sensational captions, Ebony's November 1951 issue posed the question "Is It True What They Say about Models?" adjacent to its cover image. Clad in a leopard-skin bikini, the brown-skinned model's head tilts backward, one painted red fingernail tips her jaw upward as if to hint a kiss may be necessary. Her light brown eyes and full red lips seem to hold the answer to the question, and to find the answer, Ebony readers needed to purchase the magazine. If the reader made the purchase, the magazine's cover—a bright pink and red backdrop now commonly associated with the romance of Valentine's Day—also promised to reveal the heart-rending story of a Harlem mother who laments "My Children Are Going to Die," in addition to the forwarding of civil liberties as "Negroes Vote in Mississippi." In the table of contents, respectability was instantly restored to the model, Vera Francis, a trained nurse who turned to modeling as an entry into the movie industry. Perhaps, after all, that pointed, painted finger lay along the jaw in thoughtful musing and not coquettish jest. The first page of the article, a double-page spread, refuted the negative associations with modeling, its subtitle reading "Widely-accepted slurs about loose morals [are] resented by glamour queens of profession." In the diligent pursuit of "facts concerning . . . the truth about models," Ebony summarized the findings, though not its method, of its "poll[ing] some of the most successful in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles" and concluded that these women are "neither . . . husband snatchers or night club barflies." The reader learned that the majority of these women were too busy to be engaged in "mischievous leisure," as employment as teachers, nurses, and clerks, as well as studies in law and speech, kept them productive and respectable.46

    Ebony explained that advertisers' early use of white chorus girls to sell their products might be the unfortunate association of loose morality with modeling. By the turn of the twentieth century, chorus girls attained new respectability; their working-class backgrounds operated in their favor, contouring them as symbols of self-made success, sexual freedom, glamorous lifestyle, and independent womanhood.47 But the old correlation between the two occupations, and the association of chorus girls with the "gay life," "sugar daddies," and "orchids and champagne" persisted. Demonstrating the falsehood of such associations, Ebony also pointed to [End Page 22] the impracticability of a "loose, night-clubbing, home-wrecker" lifestyle. Beauty, the model's premium, demanded careful attention. In addition to the reputation earned by such actions, long nights and alcoholic binges were represented as detrimental to a model's looks and ruinous to her profession. Far from holding beauty as an ideal unattainable to the average African American woman, Ebony clearly exposed the accessibility of this vision and defined the way in which such attributes should be experienced. Stressing the ethic of hard work, Ebony underscored the value of labor and the effort that beauty mandated, suggesting that unattractive women did not work hard enough.

    Beautiful models, smart enough to reject a lifestyle of all night parties and heavy drinking, nevertheless acknowledged the temptation to indulge in such practices; some even stressed moderation—as opposed to outright rejection—as the key. Many of the women spoke in the language of sacrifice necessary for thriving careers. Francis noted that keeping busy was "one sure way of staying out of trouble," while model Daphne Moore confessed that, in her effort to succeed, she pared back "some dating, night clubbing and partying," and Gloria Forman, who also held a night job, decided to "forget the play side of life" until she attained her dream of full-time modeling. Representing somewhat of a balance was twenty-year-old Ellen Holly, who noted that models are "just like other people—clean living girls, neither sober nor fast." Other models, such as Sylvia Fitt, one of the most successful models, rejected outright any such lifestyle and embraced more genteel pursuits such as reading and knitting in her spare time. Finally, Ebony firmly asserted the period's dominant social values of the heterosexual wife, mother, and diligent homemaker. By representing glamorous models as ordinary women who studied, worked, married, and tended to homes, children, and husbands, Ebony reinforced postwar valuations of heterosexual marital fulfillment.

    Another African American popular magazine, Our World, reinforced this celebratory fusion of middle-class marriage and careers in modeling. "What Happened to the Brandford Models?" provided an update on six of the agency's earliest African American models, five of whom were represented as blissfully wed. Despite continuing to model on part-time bases, the article concluded that "in the long run all of these girls will give up modeling to take care of growing families and to give way to younger models."48 Accompanying the text were images that demonstrated the full lives of these five women as models, mothers, and wives. Figure 2 depicts Sylvia Fitt Jones as a working model as she poses for the photographer. In addition, several images represented these women as homemakers fulfilling the period's expected domestic duties such as cooking and ironing. In Figure 3, Fitt appears in the more conventional role of housewife as she [End Page 23] tends to her husband. Other images depicted the models, in partnership with their husbands, engaged in the leisurely and middle-class athleticism of golfing and bowling. The portrayal of happy marriages, successful careers, dutiful motherhood, and efforts to stay fit—while, of course, having great fun—rendered these women not merely as commercial models, but also as models for African American womanhood. Presented to the average woman was the ultimate ideal of African American middle class womanhood—balancing glamorous work with home and husband and attaching greater status to the husband's job.49 In the world drawn by Ebony and Our World, the African American man's beautiful "Brownskin" wife was a testament to capitalistic success, democratic triumph, and male dominance.

    Click for larger view Figure 2
    Sylvia Fitt Jones, working model. "What Happened to the Brandford Models?" Our World, February 1954, 33.

    "Estranged from her husband," the sixth woman in the Our World article, Mary Cunningham, is described as a mother of a fourteen-year-old who apparently was not in her custody, as Cunningham "lives by herself in the suburbs." Like the other Brandford models, she is represented as a success story—one image displays her astride her "snappy Buick convertible." But of the six women, Cunningham's image is presented in the most sexualized fashion and, as the magazine declared, she "is loaded [End Page 24]

    Click for larger view Figure 3
    Sylvia Fitt Jones, homemaker. "Between modeling stints and a job as Director of Barbara Watson's Charm School, Sylvia manages to keep house and cook for salesman husband Bill." "What Happened to the Brandford Models?" Our World, February 1954, 33.

    with what lensmen call 'cheesecake' appeal."50 While hardly downplaying the sexual attractiveness of the other five women, the subsequent images did not assert such overt sexuality, suggesting that Cunningham (despite her "snappy Buick") needed to compensate for her single status with greater effort. The image closest in "cheesecake" appeal was that of wife, mother, and model Courtenaye Olden. Unlike Cunningham's "boudoir" photo—Figure 4 shows Cunningham posing on a bed in a frilly black nightgown—Olden appears seated, legs amply displayed, prettily perusing a book on Matisse. While both images can be described as "cheesecake," the poses and the props expose a divergence between the two. Perhaps the magazine's editors perceived the differences between married and unmarried women as being the harnessing of sexuality in marriage and felt more comfortable in Cunningham's more sexualized "cheesecake" display. [End Page 25]

    Click for larger view Figure 4
    Mary Cunningham, bed. "Mary Cunningham, one of the top models of Brandford Agency, is loaded with what lensmen call 'cheesecake appeal,' works steadily in fashion." "What Happened to the Brandford Models?" Our World, February 1954, 31.

    Although four of the five married women intermittently participated in some aspect of modeling—the fifth too busy with young children—Cunningham continued to work "steadily in fashion."51 Cunningham's tenuous position as a separated African American mother of a fourteen-year-old possibly pressured her to continue posing in "cheesecake" photographs long after she desired to do so. Although the other women may have possessed greater economic security through marital partnership, Cunningham possibly needed to maintain her modeling job; the heightened publicity offered through posing for "cheesecake" photographs in this feature can explain the discrepancy in the images. [End Page 26]

    The hierarchical structure in the modeling industry is also displayed but not discussed in Ebony's "Is It True What They Say About Models?" Flanking the article are four full-body 4 x 6 black and white photos of women in bathing suits; two 4 x 6 images of a model, one emphasizing her face, the other of her preparing dinner at home for her husband; and finally four smaller portrait-type images. Posing for the four large "cheesecake" images were Vera Francis, Dorothy Browne, Gloria Forman, and Daphne Moore, all fairly new or fairly steadily employed models. The smaller portrait images represented a range of women. The only two large portrait-type images were those of Sylvia Fitt, "one of the most photographed models in New York City." Unlike the less successful models, Fitt apparently did not need to pose in a swimsuit; rather, her achievement permitted fully clothed photos, equal in size to the "cheesecake" images. One photograph captured Fitt in the kitchen, frying pan in hand, while she prettily posed for the camera. Fitt, positioned next to the images of bathing beauties, seemingly represented the quintessential African American model—the one who has achieved fame, family, and fortune. Yet by juxtaposing the happy homemaker model adjacent to "cheesecake" images, the reader knew that Fitt once too appeared in such a manner. The images of Fitt did not trivialize the sexual displays of the other four models, but rather worked to support the collage of African American women as heterosexual, middle-class, and respectable homemakers.

    Beauty for Sale: "Racket or Business?"
    If images of the "Brownskin" acted as both the index of social attainment and the prize of the race, they also endorsed the view that this status was viable for all women. As historian Lois Banner has demonstrated, by the early twentieth century the pursuit and sale of beauty was increasingly presented as a democratic right.52 By the early postwar period, this democratization of beauty applied to the "Brownskin." Although some African American women moved into white-collar jobs, they did so with the added burden of presenting themselves in the shadow of the "Brownskin" ideal. Lest that shadow become too long or intimidating, the characteristics of beauty, poise, and femininity—exemplified in the "Brownskin"—were advertised, packaged, and available for purchase.

    Support for the democratization of beauty, heterosexual appeal, and middle-class status appeared in Jet, another Johnson publication, in an article that queried, "What Makes a Good Model?" and found that "beauty is an asset but not a necessity."53 The magazine featured Chicago-based Crest Modeling School that, for $125, offered a six-month course in the rudiments of modeling. Mrs. Lightsey, a "veteran model" and the school's [End Page 27] proprietor, overturned the perception that only beautiful women could dream of modeling, and that modeling skills were only useful to the model; apparently all women benefited from such training. Mrs. Lightsey explained: "Most girls come to me . . . because they are 'ugly ducklings' in search of charm and grace to utilize in their respective professions. My most astute pupils become models in their spare time. The only qualification that I have for girls entering my school is that they are clean and have the inclination to learn."54

    The emphasis on the utilitarian nature of the training, of course, is partially a marketing attempt to represent this education as a great investment. In urban centers, there was no shortage of beauty, modeling, and charm schools throughout the period; their endurance and continued appearance indicates that African American women enrolled in these schools in significant numbers. Modeling school, and its older cousin, the charm school, enjoyed success in African American communities across the country, imparting "important social graces and professional skills" to middle-class youth.55 Unlike modeling agencies, these schools did not participate in booking and handling models, but attended to the education of "use of make-up, diction, figure control, hair styling, correct posture," among other social graces.56

    Aware that ignominious schools threatened the good name of many, Ebony's September 1950 article mused "Model Schools: Racket or Business?" Describing the underworld of disreputable schools, Ebony forewarned readers of falling prey to charlatans; the article described the peril as "shady operators of schools that bilk ambitious young ladies and their mothers of cash on promises of jobs . . . there have been fly-by-night, untrained teachers, quickie six-week beauty courses and even some slick fringe photographic deals bordering on pornography."57

    The article declared that the novelty of modeling as a profession for African American women limited the chances for deception, and most schools were reputable ones "that operate with a minimum of job promises but a maximum of excellent training in poise and personality."58 Ebony reinforced that training in beauty and social skills were useful to the average woman, conceding that due to the shortage of jobs for African American models, these schools essentially acted as "charm schools [for] housewives [and] high school students." Age and size seemed no deterrent, as the magazine reported one Chicago school enrolling "at least two fifty-year-old students as well as a third who weighed nearly 300 pounds." At least theoretically, modeling schools presented to all African American women the opportunity to attain femininity, grace, and status. Describing the role of charm schools and using the DeVore School of Charm as its prototype, the New York Times explored the appeal of such institutions. [End Page 28] Established in 1946 by DeVore, the institution's first class graduated only thirteen women; by 1969, the time that the article was written, that number increased to an annual count of two to three hundred. Reflecting on the unchanged role of the charm school, DeVore asserted that only a small percentage of women enrolled for the purpose of modeling as a career; a greater number sought career advancement and the majority "want[ed] confidence in themselves as women." Defining the intangible nature of charm was not difficult for DeVore, who stated: "t's a sort of bloom on a woman. If you have it, you don't need anything else; and if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have."59

    Testament to the value of training in charm, poise, and etiquette also came from the correspondence of individual women. Writing from Dayton, Ohio, Phyllis J. Hunt expressed her gratitude to Brandford Model and Charm School. Addressed to Barbara M. Watson,60 Hunt's 1949 letter is an apparent response to an invitation to attend a model course, but the writer qualified its purpose as "a combination business and personal letter." Regretting that she could not attend, Hunt explained that she had returned to Dayton where, unlike New York, "a Negro girl has a harder time getting a clerical position."61 However, as the "Home of Aviation," Dayton's three airfields presented opportunities for government employment, enabling Hunt to secure a clerical position. Despite Hunt's good fortune, her letter expressed the isolation and otherness of working in a predominantly white environment; she stated: "I believe I am the only stenographer on this floor who is 'technicolored.'"62 Hunt's correspondence expressed anxiety in maintaining the new clerical position with assurance and comfort, and credited the charm course in providing her with confidence, poise, and dignity—characteristics she considered essential to her success. As a success story intended to invoke the pride of her mentor, Hunt divulged, "If I hadn't completed my charm course I don't think I could have gone through the first days as there had never been any Negro girls up here with these colonels and generals, etc., and everyone was just a little too nice. I had made a very nice rating on my test, though, and I knew that if I conducted myself as a lady everything would turn out in my favor. At this point my charm course did come in handy."63

    No other record of Phyllis Hunt is available, and the invitation to attend the model course was more than likely a bulk mailing to past students of the Brandford charm course. Why and for how long Hunt remained in New York is unknown, as are the reasons she initially enrolled in the charm course. Perhaps she received clerical training in the city, and found the charm course—through advertising, solicitation, or word of mouth—to be a good complement. In her letter, Hunt expressed uncertainty that Watson would remember her, suggesting that their interludes [End Page 29] were entirely professional. Hunt's reference to "the nights you taught us to walk with our hips tucked under" reveals that instruction took place in the evening, indicating that most participants held day jobs or other responsibilities and partook in the course for recreation or for social and professional improvement. It is this anonymity that renders Hunt's letter as significant—it reveals the importance that one African American woman attached to such courses. When furnished with new economic opportunities—displayed as imminent in publications such as Ebony which epitomized African America's expectant climate—respectable deportment facilitated successful integration and professional achievement. When it came to integrated professional and social situations, femininity, grace, and manners apparently surpassed the value of aesthetic beauty; good grooming was necessary for professional acceptance, but it was equally important to conduct oneself in a respectable manner. Pondering the remote possibility of future attendance at a model course, Hunt asserted: "not that I could ever be a model, but it does so much for a girl's morale to know that she's doing the correct thing."64 Such training benefited the individual woman by boosting confidence and allowing successful interplay in professional settings. Accomplished social intercourse in the workplace demonstrated that African American women were diligent and dignified workers—welcome additions to both the integrated and segregated workplace.

    Another letter, penned by Barbara M. Watson, revealed the efforts to recruit enrollment in charm and modeling courses; it also offers a blueprint for the unavailable letter that elicited Hunt's response and demonstrates that standards of beauty, deportment, and middle-class femininity were presented as ideals for all working women. Addressed to Miss Leonora Cox, Recreational Director of Lincoln Nursing Home in Bronx, New York, the letter outlined the benefits of a "Charm Clinic"—the language suggesting the treatment of an ailment with both brevity and scientific management. In addition to "provid[ing] a new avenue of activity for those under your supervision," Watson elucidated the growing concern of "business women of today [who] are more aware of the importance of their general appearance than ever before."65 Including teachers, secretaries, nurses, and executives in this category, Watson pointed to the continual need of these women to "stay on a par with others in their field." Assuming that these women kept abreast of the professional requirements of their positions, Watson's "Charm Clinic" offered assistance in the equally serious work of "counting calories, trying a new make-up and changing hairstyles."66 Watson's letter, and Cox's brief positive response, reveals the vital role that beauty and grooming played in the working lives of African American women.

    Enclosed in the letter to Cox was the brochure "You—All New"; it [End Page 30] guaranteed not merely the refinement of beauty but rather a dramatic metamorphosis in appearance and personality. In the dual trope of self-help and success, Brandford Model and Charm School, under Barbara M. Watson's tutelage, articulated the democratic spirit behind the courses; the brochure declared the potential beauty of all women, conditional only on the "earnest desire for personal self-improvement." For $55, the eight-week course, offered one evening a week, promised "A New Figure, A New Face, A New Fashion, A New Poise." The course focused on crucial aspects of femininity and beauty: grooming and deportment; diet and exercise; cosmetic application with special consideration of skin tone; fashion: "what to wear, when [and] how to wear it"; charm; and personality. 67 Such training presented African American women with the additional task of appropriating aesthetic values dominant in the mass media, namely film and magazines such as Ebony. An undated lecture by Watson declared that contemporary society placed great demands on both men and women, although the courses that promised to "lea[d] [them] to the ultimate objective—a charming, poised personality" were undoubtedly geared towards women. With clarity, Watson asserted that contemporary society granted "charm and poise" significant weight; it was no longer "enough to have education and knowledge—one must also have a charming and pleasant personality and a good appearance. This is necessary for personal as well as professional relationships."68

    Postwar employment expansion into clerical positions presented African American women with new anxieties concerning their behavior, actions, and appearance. Charm and modeling schools played important roles in instilling pride and confidence in those seeking the necessary skills to transition smoothly into a world that possessed little knowledge of, or respect for, African American women. Charm and modeling courses facilitated interactions in the workplace and presented a methodology for social mobility within the African American community. Despite the narrow parameters that defined femininity and ideals of female beauty, these courses provided some way for urban African American women to measure their attainment of the middle-class standard.

    Concerted efforts to address the issues surrounding employment in clerical services are reflected in a 1953 "Secretarial Clinic." Organized by the National Urban League's Administrative and Clerical Council, the clinic focused on the issues surrounding work in the burgeoning profession. In a report on the proceedings, chairman Mary E. Finger deemed the event a success and called for its development into an annual event. Finger explained that future meetings should continue to represent the concerns of the clerical workforce; she stated: "Such meetings could be the clearing-house of ideas, hopes and problems for the perspective [sic] worker, the [End Page 31] girl about to leave school for the business-world—for the unsatisfied worker, who needs to take a fresh look at herself and her job experience—for the fortunate worker happily established in her job, but must never get too complacent about herself. . . ."69

    Included in the report was Watson's address, "The Well-Groomed Secretary." Finger indicated that Watson was one of the "two major speakers . . . highlight[ing] the interest-areas touched upon by the clinic participants."70 Highlighting good grooming and cleanliness, Watson stressed the importance of "neat, clean, and well-pressed" clothes. According to Watson, "the really efficient career girl" considered grooming to be "an intricate part of her life each and every day," and, employing "smartness and chic," relied on "simplicity and subtlety" when constructing her appearance.71 Invoking the ethics of the skilled worker, Watson supplied the understanding that one's appearance reflected one's ability, and in a period when small numbers of African American women were entering the clerical workforce, such appearance proved fundamental to one's success.

    Efficiency, however, did not occlude femininity. Calling on the judicious application of makeup, Watson counseled women not to forgo its use "because you might frighten people away"; she stressed that one need not look "drab, dull and uninteresting" since a feminine look could be achieved without "being extremely exotic." Referring to the "exotic" appearance, Watson explained that a nightclub look was inappropriate in the office. Never once referring to race or racist attitudes, Watson's allusion to exoticism reveals the need for African American women to maintain a subdued appearance. Although it is unlikely that women would have considered donning evening wear to the office, Watson's citing the matter suggests her belief that some were unable to render such a distinction. Addressing hairstyles, posture, diction, and manicures, Watson provided workers with a blueprint for professional success. Somewhat softening the daunting task of being both immaculately groomed and highly skilled, the clinic's participants were informed that physical beauty was not important. Using Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt as examples, Watson argued that their "beauty of personality" was all that mattered.72 Surely the references were designed to offer comfort, and while it is improbable that this was her intention, Watson's conjuring the mental images of these two highly accomplished women reinforced a standardized ideal of beauty. Neither woman fulfilled the physical ideals of either African American or white womanhood; their success apparently was attained in spite of this deficiency and not regardless of their divergence from prototypical concepts of beauty.

    Consistently deploying the image of the "Brownskin," popular magazines in America's early postwar era actively participated in producing [End Page 32] new iconographic understandings of African American womanhood. The images simultaneously objectified, and then restored, respectable middle-class status to African American women's bodies. Successful and sexual, these images redressed the denigrating and pervasive stereotypes of African American women as unattractive washerwomen, laundresses, maids, and mammies, but did so without wholly restructuring the dominant understanding of racial and gender identity. The brown-skinned complexion acted as both a badge of race pride and a shield from white disparagement of dark skin tones. The success of brown-skinned models over their lighter- and darker-skinned sisters illustrates that this middling representation exemplified the most suitable public female face for postwar African America.

    Predating the late 1960s "Polishing [of] Black Diamonds" was the early postwar display of the "Brownskin"; this feminized, heterosexually appealing, socially mobile, and consumerist image reflected the era's hope for full democratic rights. The opulence of the "Brownskin," like the expectancy of the period, waned by the mid-1950s; the militancy of the later decades generated new challenges for African American women and new commodifications of female beauty. Although the Polished Brown Diamond dazzled for a relatively short period of time—between the end of World War II and the onset of the civil rights movement—the "Brownskin" remains central to understanding the postwar visual discourse of an attendant, middle-class African America and to the reworking of ideals of sex, color, and African American female beauty in later decades.

    Laila Haidarali is a doctoral candidate in history at York University in Toronto, Canada. She is currently completing a dissertation entitled "'The Vampingest Vamp is a Brownskin': Sex, Colour, Beauty and African American Women, 1929-1954."
    1. Ophelia DeVore as quoted in "Her Name is Ophelia DeVore and Her Specialty is Polishing Black Diamonds," New York Times, 20 August 1969, 50.

    2. Daniel O. Price, Changing Characteristics of the Negro Population,U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1960 Census Monograph(Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1969), 116-18; and Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter (New York: William Morrow, 1984), 231-58.

    3. Lisa Fine, The Souls of the Skyscraper (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990); and Angel Kwolek-Folland, Engendering Business (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994).

    4. Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow (New York: Random House, 1985), 178.

    5. Karen Tucker Anderson, "Last Hired, First Fired: Black Women Workers during World War II," Journal of American History 69, no. 1 (June 1982): 90; and Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, 266. [End Page 33]

    6. Price, Changing Characteristics of the Negro Population, 116-18.

    7. E. Franklin Frazier noted the increase in clerical workers as largely responsible for the growth of the African American middle class. See E. Franklin Frazier, The Black Bourgeoisie (New York: Free Press, 1957).

    8. Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, 181; and Kwolek-Folland, Engendering Business.

    9. Price, Changing Characteristics of the Negro Population, 116-18.

    10. The history of good grooming practices as a mode for social advancement and as race-proud representation has been well documented. For example, see Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993); Darlene Clark Hine, "Rape and the Inner Lives of Black Women in the Middle West," Signs 14 (summer 1989): 912-20; Kathy Peiss, Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture (New York: Metropolitan, 1998); Bruce Taylor, "Black Hairstyles," Western Journal of Black Studies 14, no. 4 (1990):235-50; and Maxine Craig, Ain't I a Beauty Queen? Black Women, Beauty and the Politics of Race (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

    11. Joe Trotter, The Great Migration in Historical Perspective (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991); and Earl Lewis, In Their Own Interests (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).

    12. For discussions on women and wartime opportunities see Anderson, "Last Hired, First Fired," 82-97; Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, 232-60; and Susan M. Hartmann, The Home Front and Beyond (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982).

    13. Earl Lewis, In Their Own Interests; Rex R. Campbell and Daniel M. Johnson, African American Migration in America (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1981).

    14. See Dwight Brooks, "Consumer Markets and Consumer Magazines" (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1991); and Robert E. Weems Jr., Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 32.

    15. David J. Sullivan, "Negro Incomes and How They are Spent," Sales Management 54 (14 June 1945): 106.

    16. Historical Statistics of the United States, Part 1, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census (New York: Kraus International Publications, 1989), 303.

    17. David J. Sullivan, "Don't Do This—If You Want to Sell Your Products to Negroes!" Sales Management 52 (1 March 1943): 48, 50.

    18. Weems, Desegregating the Dollar, 22.

    19. Paul K. Edwards, The Southern Urban Negro as Consumer (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1932),135-46. [End Page 34]

    20. Sullivan, "Don't Do This," 50.

    21. Canada Lee, as quoted in "Another Step Up: First Agency For Negro Models Opens," unidentified newspaper clipping, 31 July 1946, Box 10, Barbara Watson Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations, New York City, New York, hereafter BWC.

    22. Edward Brandford as quoted in "Another Step Up."

    23. The complex history behind African American women's consumption and use of cosmetics is an important ongoing debate. See Noliwe M. Rooks, Hair Raising (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996); Maxine Craig, "The Decline and Fall of the Conk," Fashion Theory 1, no. 4 (1997): 399-420; Robin D. Kelley, "Nap Time," Fashion Theory 1, no. 4 (1997): 339-51; Kobena Mercer, "Black Hair/Style," in Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, ed. Russell Ferguson et al. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990), 247-64; and Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 203-37.

    24. Mary Louise Yabro as quoted in "Another Step Up."

    25. For example, see T. Jackson Lears, "From Salvation to Self-Realization," in The Culture of Consumption, ed. Richard Wrightman Fox and T. Jackson Lears (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), 3-38; and William R. Leach, "Transformations in a Culture of Consumption," Journal of American History 71, no. 2 (1994): 319-42.

    26. "Another Step Up."

    27. "Backstage," Ebony (November 1945), 1.

    28. Ronald E. Wolseley, The Black Press, USA (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1971), 142.

    29. On the impact of photography on the African American psyche, see bell hooks, "'In Our Glory,'" in Picturing Us, ed. Deborah E. Willis (New York: New Press, 1994), 43-53; and Maren Stange, "Photographs Taken in Everyday Life," in The Black Press: New Literary and Historical Essays, ed. Todd Vogel (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 207-227.

    30. John H. Johnson with Lerone Bennett Jr., Succeeding Against the Odds (New York: Amistad Press, 1989), 153-56.

    31. Elaine Brooks, "All About the Negro Models," New York Post, 16 June 1955, 4.

    32. Lucille Rich, "All About the Negro Models," 4.

    33. Dolores Jackson, "All About the Negro Models," 30.

    34. "Can Negro Models Make the Bigtime?" Ebony (September 1954), 100.

    35. Ibid., 103-104.

    36. "All About the Negro Models," 4.

    37. "Is It True What They Say About Models?" Ebony (November 1951), 60-61. [End Page 35]

    38. Lucille Rich, "All About the Negro Models," 30.

    39. Marion Baker, "All About the Negro Models," 30.

    40. Barbara Summers, Black and Beautiful (New York: Amistad Press, 1998), 25-26.

    41. Ophelia DeVore as quoted in Summers, Black and Beautiful, 26.

    42. "Can Negro Models Make the Bigtime?" 103.

    43. Ibid.

    44. For example, see Giddings, When and Where I Enter.

    45. Joanne Meyerowitz, "Women, Cheesecake, and Borderline Material," Journal of Women's History 8, no. 3 (1996): 18-21.

    46. "Is It True What They Say About Models?" 60-61.

    47. Lois Banner, American Beauty (New York: Knopf, 1983), esp. 181-83.

    48. "What Happened to the Brandford Models?" Our World (February 1954), 37.

    49. Jacqueline Jones describes Ebony's glorified depiction of African American womanhood as "Superwoman" long before this ideology came into popular thought. Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, 268-74. Important works on women in mass magazine culture include Joanne Meyerowitz, "Beyond the Feminine Mystique," The Journal of American History 79, no. 4 (1993): 1455-82; Jennifer Scanlon, Inarticulate Longings (New York: Routledge, 1995); Eva Moskowitz, "It's Good to Blow Your Top," Journal of Women's History 8, no. 3 (1996): 66-98; Carolyn Kitch, Girl on the Magazine Cover (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); and Craig, Ain't I a Beauty Queen? For discussions on constructions of masculinity, see Tom Pendergast, Creating the Modern Man (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2000).

    50. "What Happened to the Brandford Models?" 31-32.

    51. Ibid., 31.

    52. Banner, American Beauty, 205-207.

    53. "What Makes a Good Model?" Jet (23 April 1955), 38.

    54. Mrs. Betty Lightsdey as quoted in "What Makes a Good Model?" 42.

    55. Summers, Black and Beautiful, 24.

    56. "What Makes a Good Model?" 42.

    57. "Model Schools: Racket or Business?" Ebony (September 1950), 73.

    58. Ibid.

    59. DeVore as quoted in "Her Name is Ophelia DeVore and Her Specialty is Polishing Black Diamonds," 50. [End Page 36]

    60. A Brandford Models 1948 brochure lists Barbara M. Watson as "Prominent Lecturer and Fashion Authority." A 1 October 1953 card announces the name change from Brandford Models to Barbara Watson Models, Box 9, folder 3, BWC.

    61. Phyllis J. Hunt to Barbara M. Watson, 2 September 1949, Box 9, folder 1, BWC.

    62. Ibid.

    63. Ibid.

    64. Ibid.

    65. Barbara M. Watson to Leonora Cox, 26 May 1955, Box 9, folder 1, BWC.

    66. Ibid.

    67. "You . . . All New" booklet, Box 9, folder 8, BWC.

    68. The Barbara Watson Lecture, no date, Box 9, folder 3, BWC.

    69. Mary E. Finger, Chairman, Administrative and Clerical Council, "Foreword," included in Barbara M. Watson's speech entitled "The Well-Groomed Secretary," Box 9, folder 8, BWC.

    70. Ibid.

    71. "The Well-Groomed Secretary," Box 9, folder 8, BWC.

    72. Ibid.
  2. Ikoro

    Ikoro Well-Known Member MEMBER

    May 23, 2006
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    How can Silent-Ra just keep whippin out these jewelz?


    - Ikoro