Blackhair is a UK publication dedicated to lending more visibility to black women in the media. When the cover model for the December/January 2017 issue wasn’t black, readers were understandably upset. Emily Bador, who identifies as white, English and Malaysian, appeared on the cover with an updo created to resemble natural black hair. The magazine's editor, Keysha Davis, issued an apology on Facebook, saying, "we were obviously not aware of this prior to selecting the image." She went onto assure the readers that "the last thing we want to do is add to [black women's] erasure."
Many fans were quick to accuse Bador of cultural appropriation for the hairstyle she wears on the cover. The model posted an impassioned apology on Instagram, explaining that the photo was taken before she was aware of the implications of a white woman wearing "black" hair, and that nobody consulted her about using the picture for this particular cover.
I would deeply and sincerely like to apologise to every one for this, and black women especially. I would like to clarify, I believe this shoot is from when I was around 15 and didn't understand cultural appropriation or the impact it has on POC. I was uneducated, which obviously is no excuse, ignorant and immature. Growing up in a very very white city, I had no idea the struggles black women face and how often they were persecuted for their hair. I didn't understand how black women are constantly told their natural hair is inappropriate/unprofessional for the work place, or how young girls are told they can't go to school with natural hair. I didn't understand that shoots like this support the very Eurocentric beauty standard that the mainstream media focus on which reinforce the idea that black features are only ok on white women. I didn't understand that as a white passing woman I'd be praised for this hair, but if I was a black woman I'd be persecuted. I didn't understand cultural appropriation. I do regret doing this. I hold up my hands, I'm so so so sorry and I'm very sorry this cover was taken away from a black woman. This image is (I think, although I'm not 100% sure) about 3/4 years old, it was never intended to be on the cover of this magazine. If I had known it was going to be published, I would never have condoned it. I'm upset and angry I was never asked by the photographer/hair salon/anyone if this image could be used for the cover Black Hair. I'm so glad I've educated myself and surrounded my self with people to teach me what is right and wrong. I constantly am learning and becoming more and more informed. It's important to come forward and be honest with ourselves about our past mistakes, otherwise we will never learn. Again, I'm truly, deeply sorry to anyone I've offended and I hope if nothing else this post can educated others so they don't make similar mistakes. (also please let me know if I've said anything wrong or offensive in this post!!! or anything i can add!!!! i love u all sm and the last thing i want to do is offend or hurt any one, i really hope you don't all think im a massive twat )
While this whole ordeal has been chalked up to being an accident, it has still left many readers with a bitter feeling. “This is a slap in the face to the countless struggling black models in the industry,” a commenter wrote in response to the company’s apology. Lets hope that Blackhair double- and triple-checks their magazine before they publish it next time.
You can read the magazine's full statement below: