A Little Afro Love

Jourdan Dunn’s sporting a glorious fro on the cover of Elle France’s December 2008 issue (thanks to my fashion savior Make Fetch Happen for the head’s up!).

And I gotta ask — what do you see when you see this photo?

Do you see a striking and rare image of a model of color rocking a hair texture that isn’t stick straight?

Do you see an attempt by a mainstream foreign fashion magazine to continue the trend started most recently by Vogue Italia?

Or do you see something else that isn’t as beautiful and inspiring?

Like? Love? Hate? Meh?

I saw this image and I was struck by that crown of hair. I don’t care if it’s real or fake, all hers, or salon-assisted – to me, her fro looks HOT. Fly. She is working it and I love that Elle France put her and that fabulous hair front and center. A magazine cover like that gets an immediate spot on my coffee table.

I see that photo as hair inspiration for bellas who are on the fence about how beautiful their natural hair might be. But some of the comments on Make Fetch Happen were less glowing.

It all made me think about of two recent, brilliant blog posts I read on Racialicious — Nappily Ever After? Not Quite by Latoya Peterson, and Nappy Love: Or how I learned to stop worrying and embrace the kinks by Tami of What Tami Said. Beautiful, brave words written by two bloggers I am so inspired by, about their own experiences and feelings about embracing their natural hair texture. Those posts reminded me that not everyone’s hair journey is the same, but we learn so much along the path. The experiences we have with our natural hair — the response it evokes from others — reveals so much about how we define beauty, as versus how our peers and friends, significant others and families do.

I look at that photo, and I see a baby step in a direction I sincerely applaud. An undeniably stunning model, and a celebration of beauty I can see an almost-reflection of myself in.

What do you see? Do you love it? Or not?

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Comments

  1. HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    POSE OFF MY GIRL!!!

  2. Her ‘fro is magnificent. Absolutely gorgeous. It’s the first thing I notice.

    The second? She’s awfully thin. But. 1) This is fashion and that is expected and 2) I’ve resolved to love my slim sistas just as much as my plus size ones – everyone has their ideal size.

    So, thank you for posting this! I think she is stunning, and it’s such a great photo – the pose, her expression, the dress, the shoes, the ‘fro – everything.

  3. I love it. Jourdan usually sports her natural hair (if I’m recalling the right model). The cover seems organic, not like HEY OMG LOOK A BLACK MODEL ON A FOREIGN MAGAZINE AND WE PUT AN AFRO ON HER LOL!! As you said Bella, baby steps. I am glad to see more of the natural-hair beauty being represented.

  4. I wear my hair in a ‘fro so I always love to see representation! But I’d still love to see more all-the-way-natural hair in mags — when I’m looking for hair ideas in fashion or hair magazines, they ALWAYS require a weave. Nothing’s wrong with a weave, I just don’t want to deal with one.

  5. I love it! She looks stunning.

  6. Starchild says:

    I love it!

    I wish my ‘fro was that big. :-)

  7. I’m loving this cover. Thank you so much ‘bella for posting it. I collect afro images in high fashion and she is perfect. Thanks again. (Also I agree with the earlier post, Laya’s, about how thin the model is)

  8. I love the cover!

  9. LOVE IT!!!! My own fro is a flip-floppy mess but she is owning it. I’d love to give her a few extra pounds to thicken her up a bit.

  10. Thanks Bella, as always you keep us up to speed on the latest in all that is culturally and politically relevant, not to mention what is fun.
    I absolutely love her hair, it is magnificent. More representation of what is beautiful and a reminder that as human beings, we do not all look alike, yet we manage to be gorgeous, lovely, interesting and a joy to behold.

  11. She could benefit from a biscuit (or two), but otherwise the fro is fierce!

  12. I like the fact that high fashion is taking steps towards acknowledging features of blackness as beautiful (we already knew this though) What I don’t like is how thin the model is. She is thin even for a thin girl! There is slim, then there is skinny and then there is sick looking.

    Why do model have to look like a gust of wind will blow them away like a paper doll?
    Who decided that look was beautiful?

    For the record I don’t have anything against naturally thin people…..but don’t TRY to make yourself look that way, it’s not healthy.

  13. *Models

  14. It’s a GREAT cover. Aside from the ‘fro (which is awesome), I think her exaggerated pose is an example of power. It says “See me”

  15. What’s not to love? She looks fabulous.

  16. i LOVE IT!!..and think its a good look for Elle.

  17. Maybe because I’m fresh off the scales, but the very first thing that pops with me is how THIN she is….

    Sickly looking almost.

    THEN I notice her hair….there’re no words for it……none at all……..

  18. I like to feed that model a bacon sandwich, but her hair is fierce. I’ve been rockin’ my fro lately and feeling realllll good about it.

  19. OMG!! OMG!! OMG!!
    She Looks FABULOUS!!
    That’s my dream hair!!!

    You know Bella I see a trend coming with foreign magazines. My only thing is that, Why are African Americans shown on foreign magazines more than American Magazines? True she is skinny, but that ‘could be’ from airbrushing, as “skinny” is still considered beautiful by many-but we know better, hmm.

    I’m happy to this young lady on the front cover. That beautiful afro and brown skin – make me want to paste my face on top of hers. :) Because when I look at her, I see the beauty of a Natural Black Woman. I hope to see more of it; however I would also like to it more in the U.S.

  20. I dig the fro though its disproportionate to her very thin body. I have NO issue with seeing a natural “do” on the front page of a mag. I wish we’d see it more especially from publications like Essence.

  21. I think it’s absolutely beautiful!

  22. It’s hot! I rocks my curly fros with attitude and their is something stunningly dope about seeing ELLE immersed in a fro!!! Kudos

  23. Christine says:

    Mostly I noticed how very very thin she is. Maybe it’s because I fall on the chubbier side myself, I tend to notice that more than anything.

    But I love her hair! I wish that embracing natural hair in all its variations were the norm. But you know, if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

  24. Well, I have to be one of the only to say I’m really not feeling it ladies. I mean yeah it’s cool to have “representation” on the cover of an internation mag but I dont relate to her. My ‘fro is natural. Completely. Lopsided and all…constantly picking it to keep it even and shaping it up. I can only dream of my fro being that large, round, and volumous. she kinda looks like a grape fruit with a straw stuck in it. lol
    Anywho, they find fashion and chic in thin models with fake fros. If you want to represent us, why not do it for real. I mean she doesnt have to be THICK but a little more meat on her…Im sure there are some ladies that are bless enough to get fros like that, but most arent and why the fakeness. Reminds me of how the black people on commercials always have to be light skinned or bi-racial looking (and im of a lighter skin tone and it still bothers me). Sure now they are starting to add people of color with natural hair but its still not right…..I dunno. Maybe this post is a bit of a rant. sorry ladies, but love the comments and blog!

  25. I love it. the picture made me smile.
    Whenever I try to brush out my fro to have it that huge and powerful looking it falls to one side all floppy like.
    I pick my afro daddy…… but it falls on one side ( I know she says flat, but my isn’t flat it falls)

    If don’t pick my afro….. I’m gonna have one side high.

  26. I think Jourdan is Gorgeous and the hair only enhances that. I resolve to not throw any negativity into the mix by making weight comments.
    Congrats to Jourdan, love the legs, the pose, the hair and the fact that you are so obviously BLACK AND BEAUTIFUL!

  27. She’s beautiful, look at those legs, my God!

  28. I like it. I don’t think you need to overthink it. The image is gorgeous and it’s fashion forward.

    In the 70s and late 60s, fashion magazines were full of lovely girls with fros. I’m happy for a return. I just wish I paid attention in French class.

  29. Beautiful. True, she needs a bacon sandwich on a biscuit slathered in gravy, but I’m loving the fro.

  30. I don’t think it is spectacular but it is nice to see a big ole afro on the cover of a major magazine.

    the fro makes her look top heavy like she is going to topple over but its high fashion.

    its a fierce fro none the less

    guys forget the bacon… just give her yam green banana dumplin sweet potatoe stew chicken mutton calaloo and saltfish washed down with some guiness or peanut punch.
    now i am making myself hungry cha

  31. I think it is awesome!! Seeing big hair like this on a magazine cover is great but at the same time she is a model and people can get away with a lot in the name of “fashion”. I know when I wear my big afro out in public (although not quite as big as hers), sometimes I feel the attention can get overbearing. Hopefully seeing more images like this can diffuse some of the negativity (from ignorance by others as well as self-hate by some of us)associated with large afros and the style can come to be seen as “normal” or “mainstream” for black women instead of “wild” and “political” only. I don’t know, I am just glad to see a representation of a beautiful black woman in her natural state. And yes she is thin but most models are that way, unfortunately. One step at a time I guess ladies!

  32. I love her hair and the general look of the cover is very chic and current. She’s a bit thin, but otherwise spectacular.

  33. I think it’s a bit boring personally.

  34. I don’t think its such a great cover… The hair’s too big in my taste (it is winter in Canada u know…) But covers with such huge hair,to me, makes for ordinary ladies to feel they can just GO for it. These covers make the afro a normal hairstyle,fashionable, to be wanted and desired. And regarding pose and look,hey, this is Elle FRANCE people! The models in French mags are always beyond thin…You think they’re skinny in Cosmo? Agh!

  35. thesouthernlady says:

    Big hair is something that Cosmo, Glamour, Elle, and other mags do all the time during the fall/winter months. Since I was 19 and addicted to reading these mags (1999), I have always seen this trend of skinny girls w/ big hair(natural or added) and big boobs. Fast forward to today and I am happy to see this cover! I already knew that I was “in style,” but this is a cover that I can show my 6 year old daughter (who wants straight hair) that her hair is just perfect and how everyone wants it! This is a step forward, dispite her thinness (which just might be natural)

  36. yeah … a lot of these models are like that. unusually and naturally tall, unusually and easily thin and slender and they have the courage, good sense and luck to capitalize on it by modeling. and they get paid to keep it up!

    anyhoo, i think she looks great. the contrast between her voluminous head and long thin legs, black hair and silvery legs is very funny and fabulous and sexy–maybe because it’s funny.

    i love the exaggeration.

    i don’t feel the need to relate to a fashion magazine cover. i know i’m real. but it’s an important way for us to see something of ourselves and feel seen and excited about our own glamorous possibilities.

  37. curlybean says:

    It didn’t inspire my natural self because nothing about the photo says natural to me. The fro, her weight, or pose. I was more excited to see a woman of color on the cover! She is absolutely beautiful with gorgeous long legs but despite that I couldn’t get over how incredibly thin she is. I am not tryin’ to be negative…I just don’t want my 4-year old daughter to view that as natural.

  38. I’m with youcouldbelieve, I don’t think you need to overthink it. It’s a fashion magazine cover. I love her fro, I thinks it’s gawjus. It’s huge and absolutely over the top, but that’s usually what I see on the runways and the covers to these types of magazines, then you take the look and tweak it for everyday. I don’t think anybody could actually rock it like that on the daily, but it makes me feel good when I look at it. It doesn’t bother me if it’s not all real. Straight-haired and white/Asian/whatever models and actresses slap in extensions and falls and whatever else, too, to get a certain look.

  39. I think we should give ELLE two snaps in “Z” formation for going there. Now we need to work on Essence, Ebony, and the likes.

  40. I liked it and I didn’t like it…the natural beauty of her face is covered because her hair is so big…then again maybe I am jealous because mine isn’t that big. :)

  41. All I see is a beautiful young woman and a magazine I’d buy in 2 seconds.

  42. Lovin’ the fro! Au natural baby. She’s a little on the lean side but super cute.

  43. flygyrl72 says:

    Meh….it’s cute. I like it okay, no big whoop. But the fro is strictly a prop in this photo. That’s why the hair is so huge & over the top, nothing feels “natural” about this image. Maybe cause I see her in all her other photos looking strictly Eurocentric & commercial, but as a sistah who sports a big natural myself, I feel no affinity with this image whatsoever, unlike when Tom Ford featured Erykah in his perfume ads, now that, I did feel a connection to…

    I still may pick this up though…

  44. I like the fro. It just wasn’t the first thing I noticed. She doesn’t look human. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with being thin. There just has to be a better way for her to position her body other than so she actually looks like a doe or a gazelle.

  45. She looks flawless! Absolutely flawless!

  46. Hye to all my beautiful sis overseas
    Everybody here was suprise with that cover, Elle magazine here is a weekly mag, and i m telling you girl, except Naomi who did few cover it’s the first time, since a longtime we have a black woman cover this mag. The Natural hair is the thing actually here,so i guess its why they choose the Fro, even if we are really late 5let’s say 10 years) about hair care & cosmetics, but it s changing slowly

  47. I’m loving the hair, the style but I HATE the fact that she’s so darn SKINNY… she looks sickly, not healthy at all. She’s unrealistically thin…

  48. I am in the category of underwhelmed. I am always a bit uncomfortable with the impulseto give power to affirm to editors of fashion mags. Also, this afro does not remind me of anyone’s hair that I know in real life. Perhaps in this image afrobellas are in the position that white women are when they look at magazines… the picture looks like them, sort of, but not really. I guess that’s progress?

  49. Wow! I see beautiful hair. Not sure whether it is her hair or not, but picked out, that is definitely my hair. Thank you Elle!

  50. I think her hair looks beautiful. Whenever I see really big fluffy fros its always on a model and usually not ‘regular’ person at the mall or something. That look would get a lot of stares. I do think that she is too thin and I don’t want Black women to fall into that super skinny size zero craze (but I don’t think that will ever happen). So she represents natural beautiful Black hair but at the same time she represents that Eurocentric fashion beauty ideal of being super skinny. Its like you can’t win with the fashion industry.

  51. I love the fro! makes me miss mine’s.(btw, i have dreads, wore a fro for about 6 years) I don’t think taht she is really that skinny but, she might be thin. As a naturally thin woman, I think there are boundaries between thin and skinny. Jourdan looks thin in some pictures but, in some pictures she looks sick skinny. other than that I love wil be showing my daughters (one has thick hair and can wear a fro and the other has curly but thin hair)Thanks, Bella!

  52. I think it’s great to see her on this cover. Sure, she’s super skinny, but that’s what the job requires. If she was bigger, she wouldn’t get the over, sadly enough. And the hair is great. Our hair is high fashion and always has been. It’s nice to see it recognized.

    That said, I’m waiting to see this sort of cover on American Vogue. Instead we get the Jennifer Aniston covers. Yawn. Same old same old.

  53. I love it. It looks forward and back at the same time. She’s fierce and fabulous. Fashion as portrayed in these mags is exagerrated and so her ‘fro totally fits. Now, would I like to sit behind her in the movie theater?

  54. politicallyincorrect says:

    That kind fake fro is one of the most offensive things to me, its like blackface even if the person is black.
    It reminds me of the Halloween fro’s white folks wear. What is wrong with a real fro? Not good enough or exotic enough for the white editors?
    And that rail thin model? You guys think this is progress? Just give up on these magazines already.

  55. She looks beautiful and it’s nice to see a sister with natural hair. Not even our own black magazines do this.

    I don’t know what is going on with the American fashion magazines. Enough with the same three actresses (Jennifer Anistan, Kate Hudson, Scar Jo)

  56. All I see is beauty, pure and simple.

  57. This magazine cover is F-I-Y-A-HHHHHHH!!!! I think Italian Vogue has really set an extremely positive trend with their recent black issue… and other publications are following suit… we’re starting to see more women of color (outside of the lightskin, long, wavy/straight hair-type) in high-fashion and mainstream venues and that is GREAT! I pray this is a trend that is here to stay and becomes popular outside of Europe.

  58. I love it, and I would like to see more magazine covers like it.

  59. Thank you politicallyincorrect!

  60. I love her fro! She is beautiful! I actually am wearing my hair out in a fro today and was real happy to see this cover. We need more display of beautiful fros :)

  61. I love it! It feels good to see someone who looks like me on the cover or a magazine! I get tired of people saying, “So when are you going to do something to that hair?” That is so annoying! So it makes me feel good that France is showing love to the Afros!

  62. I love the cover! I saw a beautiful haute couture model rocking a fierce ‘fro and she’s black. This, while still another baby step is still huge! When is the American market going to realize that not every model has to be white to be beautiful. And the fact that she is called ‘Top Model of the Year’ is also major! From a French magazine! Amazing!

  63. I think it is a great picture! I am always in support of a beauty like hers, because it challenges the aesthetic that so many hold up on a pedestal. Which all of us bellas do on a regular basis :) but a cover like this just reinforces our beauty. I always think of the fro and of course the 70s. It seemed like a pretty cool time culturally( the musice was the bomb, the clothes were cute, and it was before all of the hardcore drugs)..I am definately a 8os baby but sometimes I secretly watch Soultrain clips from the 70s(on youtube) and wish I could have been a part of it all.

  64. Since when did glossy fashion mag covers represent anything natural or ordinary? Nothing wrong with natural and ordinary, mind you, but sadly there isn’t much room for it in the world of high fashion.

    I love this cover! From the comments here, it certainly serves it’s purpose. I love the exaggerated mega-fro and photo styling. I want to buy this magazine!

  65. What a spectacle…an unabashed beauty! Jourdan’s super ’fro may not be the real thing, but, even so, it’s a head-turning representation I can’t help but embrace. It’s like every hair on her head is demanding its own place in the sun.

    Our beauty is too often ignored and unappreciated. It’s high time for an authentically black aesthetic to be put on display.

  66. I luv it!!!! Luv it! Whether her ‘fro is real or not, I still like the look. A lot of photo shoots are about fantasy. Even hairstyles that can’t be achieved either in real life or on most people are still worthy of admiration. BTW, have you seen Esperanza Spalding’s hair. I venture to say that her ‘fro is almost this big and everytime I see it, I smile even though I could never wear something like that in real life. I work in a really traditional corporate environment. More power to Jordan!

  67. It’s a nice really cover, even though the girl makes me think of a microphone.

    I’d like to see a cover with some serious cornrows next.

    I wonder if I could get my hair to stand up like that. Maybe I’ll put it in rollers first.

  68. I definitely dig the afro and Im ashamed to admit that due to all the straightening creams and ions and all those chemicals have totally ruined my beautiful extra curly hair…last night I found a bald spot. A devastating experience. I would give anything to have back my frizzy, dry, curly hair because at least I HAD HAIR

  69. Wow wonderful blog! I love the cover, I really did stop and stare at this in awe. However, I do hope this isn’t an attempt to go with whatever “fad” that may be in especially considering the election of Obama…let’s hope this is simply about beauty and fashion…but then again, perhaps the fact that change is evident has caused this to happen…She’s look amazing nonetheless…!

  70. Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised that nobody has said she needs to straighten that stuff…maybe because it’s so obviously fake (IMO) or because it’s so big and (relatively) perfect?

    The picture actually puts me in mind of some of the pics of black models I remember seeing as a very young child in the 70s…and no, I’m not talking about the ‘fro so much as I am about the dress, the shoes, the pose, etc.

    I couldn’t agree more that American magazines (both mainstream and “black”) need to catch the hell up.

  71. She’s gorgeous. From head to toe.

  72. The cover is amazing! I think the timing of the Elle cover may in response to what Vogue Italia has done. But, whether Elle is just trying to keep up with the competition or were genuinely inspired to show more diverse models I’m happy to see more brown girls.

  73. The fro is “off the chain.” It looks great. I wear a fro and I would love for mine to get that big.

    Now about the weight; The only reason why you all are making sarcastic comments about her weight is because you are jealous that you are overweight or either you are just not happy with your weight. Thin women do not worry about how fat other women are, but I see that fat women worry about her thin other women. You are doing the same thing about her weight that you have always accused white people of doing about your skin color. Get a life. Instead of saying she needs a biscuit with gravy, maybe you need to put down the biscuit with gravy. Therefore, you won’t feel intimidated when you see a thin, beautiful woman.

  74. Meh.

    1) I know a gimmick when I see one
    2) Once again, black beauty only works overseas, and
    2) While I appreciate the whole kinky-headed sentiment, I’ll be happy when I see a natural haired model actually modeling her natural hair.

  75. Hello Afrobella. I was wondering as to how I might be able to get a copy of that issue? Thank you

  76. I L O V E fros! Love ‘em.

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