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Tanya Baetz

The Oversexualization of Black Women in Urban Modeling

What a difference 10 years makes. I remember back in ’95 it was damn near impossible to find a thong shot of a model like Bria Myles, short of looking in a magazine like Players or finding a copy of Howard Morehead’s infamous Bronze Beauties calendar (and those women were not Bria Myles calibre). There was no internet back then. And even if there was, there weren’t any black women on it. I took the photo above of model/actress Tanya Baetz for The Darker Image Calendar back in ’95 and it made a lot of waves at the time. So much so that she was asked on the Jenny Jones Show to talk about it, where she proclaimed “My butt is the most talked about butt in LA!” And it probably was, because that sort of thing was hardly seen in those days, much less in Barnes & Noble bookstore.

I think we would all agree that Tanya’s photo is modest by comparison to what we’re seeing today, however, which Kedesha Ferguson’s photo on the right typifies. Don’t get me wrong, I love the black woman’s shape (and for the record, I like that Ferguson photo). In fact, back in ’95 I was trying every line possible to get women like Kedesha to wear a thong, but it never worked. But now I’m starting to wish for the old days. The days when we all knew 40” hips were a thing of wonder, but could only see it undressed if we earned that right. I mean too much of anything can desensitize you to it, and I don’t wanna be desensitized to women that look like Melyssa Ford. I also don’t want people to get the impression that this is all beautiful black women who want to model are good for - ass shots. So I guess this is yet another post bemoaning the state of urban modeling and asking everyone who is a part of it to be cognizant of your role. Don’t just go with flow. Change it up. Improve the situation, or in another 5 years you may be out of work.

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