@StylistMagazine talks to Naomi Campbell – my response to Lyndsey Gilmour’s interview

Hi guys!

I hope all is well. Due a a crazy schedule over the past few weeks – which included a move to a new flat, I have been slacking on the posts…please forgive me!

As as result of being busy, I have only just had the chance to catch up and read Stylist magazine’s interview with Naomi Campbellwritten by the entertainment editor Lyndsey Gilmour – which was published a couple of weeks ago.

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I was so disappointed with interview that I had to write a response – because once again, it is a prime example of how Black woman are surreptitiously maligned by the mainstream media and constantly portrayed in negative light.

Naomi Campbell, the British born supermodel, whose 27 year modelling career has stood the test of time, has a notorious past – something that she has publicly recognised and for which she has faced the consequences and paid the penalties in full.

She is indeed no angel and some of her past behaviour has been down right despicable…yet Naomi cannot seem to be absolved of this past and the media invariably confront her with underhand and disparaging references to her character, labelling her as “fiery”, “feisty”, “difficult” and a “diva”…

The controversial Cadbury's advert that was withdrawn last year by the company describes Naomi as a 'diva'

The controversial Cadbury’s advert, that was withdrawn by the company last year, describes Naomi as a ‘diva’

… despite the fact that her peers within the fashion industry constantly come to her defence and she is still in high demand to grace the pages and the covers of the heavyweight glossy magazines.
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The piece was so…well…”un-Stylist“.

I love reading Stylist magazine, I have mentioned the magazine in my blog on a number of occasions and I hailed the beauty editorial team for the publication of Anita Bhagwandas’ candid report on the challenges that women of colour face when purchasing suitable beauty products.

The magazine usually champions the valuable and often unsung contribution that women make to society and this is one if its main attraction. I also value the intelligent, inspirational content which manages strikes the right balance between current affairs, business and career advice, lifestyle issues and fashion and beauty news, making it a wholly holistic and thoroughly enjoyable read – so I found the Naomi interview to be incongruous, akin to what I would expect from the Daily Mail and NOT my beloved Stylist. It felt like being betrayed by a close friend – after finding out how she REALLY felt about you.

It was dispiriting to read yet another article describing a Black woman as ‘intimidating’.

This choice of word is all too often assigned to Black women, thus perpetuating deeply held and ingrained beliefs that cause us to be subconsciously pre-judged by many in society.

The headline below is a case in point…

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Jess Cartner-Morley’s piece was meant to highlight the athletic prowess and domination of Richard-Ross – but I found the ascribing of the word ‘intimidating’ to her appearance and choice of hairstyle and accessories, rather than to describe her sporting achievements and physicality somewhat condescending.

I can bet my bottom dollar that she would not have referred to a white athlete’s choice of hairstyle and apparel as intimidating…

ummmm….

It was also sad to see that due to the one-sided presentation of Naomi in the Stylist article, a reader commented that Naomi came across as a bully.

WHAT????!!!!!

I cannot see how one can conclude that Naomi displayed bullying behaviour during the interview. Once again, when a Black woman is confident, self assured and not afraid to communicate this, she is often branded as a bully…

….let’s not forget the 2011 X-Factor Misha B incident.

oh dear.... #DailyFail

oh dear…. #DailyFail

Wrongly accused of bullying her fellow contestants backstage during the 2011 season by judges Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh (comments which they later retracted), Misha NEVER recovered from the slur and her popularity waned until she finally left the competition.

Terms such as these – “bully”, “aggressive”, “angry” and “scary” are perpetually pinned on Black women, irrespective of her social status, level of education or the valid contribution she is making to society.

Where was the balance in this article? How comes Gilmour failed to ask Campbell to talk more about her stellar career, which begun at the tender age of 15, especially since the magazine stated that they had been trying to secure an interview with Naomi for some time? It was a shame that not one of Naomi’s incredible triumphs over overt racial discrimination was mentioned. In December 1987, Naomi appeared on the cover of British Vogue, as the publication’s first black cover girl since 1966. In August 1988, she became the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue, after her friend and mentor, the late designer Yves St. Laurent, threatened to withdraw his advertising from the magazine if it continued to refuse to place black models on its cover.

Naomi Campbell's ground breaking 1988 cover for French Vogue

Naomi Campbell’s ground breaking 1988 cover for French Vogue

The following year, she appeared on the cover of American Vogue, which marked the first time a black model graced the front of the September issue, traditionally the year’s biggest and most important issue…and the list of her accomplishments go on.

In the last month, Naomi took a public stand against the lack of diversity and the absence of models of colour from the catwalks of leading designers, along side her fellow models Iman and Bethann Hardison. The models wrote to the four prominent fashion councils, highlighting the cause and demanding change. This notable stance also failed to make it into the article.

Did you read the Stylist interview? What were your thoughts?
I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below.

11 comments for “@StylistMagazine talks to Naomi Campbell – my response to Lyndsey Gilmour’s interview

  1. eknor
    October 16, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I couldn’t have put it better myself. I was disappointed by the lazy style of tabloid journalism that the interviewer seemed to use. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • October 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Thanks so much for reading and for your comment – let’s continue to voice our dissatisfaction!

  2. October 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I read the article and was very disappointed by the tone. It is like the journalist had already made up her mind about Naomi before the interview had commenced based on her past behaviour. I also found it annoying when Naomi’s PR had clearly stated before the interview that no personal questions should be asked but the interviewer still persisted with questions about Naomi’s partner and her family. There seems to be a huge double standard here, while Kate Moss can bounce back from an alleged drugs scandal and be greeted with open arms it seems that Naomi’s mistakes will always follow her.

  3. Sherrille Riley
    October 17, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing your views as always Natalie.

    I read the interview on the day the magazine was released and was happy to see Naomi on the front cover but was shocked by the negative tone that followed. As a black woman in the western world we are always judged by our colour first then character later. I’m always mindful of my actions around particular people as I know they are looking to confirm the media’s stereotype of black women/men. Many journalists has deep rooted racist views that they want to put across and are using underhanded tones to do so. I read a report in the Evening Standard last week with similar reporting style, headline read Jamaican murder, rather than focusing on the crime and the person that committed it. As if the country had something to do with the crime committed. I’m disappointed but not shocked!

    Sherrille

    • October 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks for commenting Sherille – we have to take a stand and say that enough is enough!

  4. bevog
    October 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Like you, I was surprised by the tone of the article. Usually, pieces in Stylist are insightful and intelligent, but with this article, the writer adopted a very tabloid-esque approach, she clearly had an agenda and that was to prove Naomi is difficult, as well as reinforce the more obvious stereotypes ascribed to Black women.

    All in all a wasted opportunity for Stylist.

  5. Kelly Charles
    October 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Absolutely agree with you Nats!

    I’ll be my following comments on Stylists site;

    Utter. Drivel. Shoddy journalism from Stylist right from the start.

    What relevance does the statement ‘..an industry Naomi Campbell has called β€˜racist’ have to with any of the content of this entire article? None whatsoever. So why does the journalist feel the need to mention it?

    This journalist in question confesses to feeling ‘intimidated’ by Naomi and it shows in her poor workmanship – maybe she needs to adopt a dose of what she refers to as Naomi’s ‘steel determination’ when it comes to interviewing high profile celebrities. Maybe then she would produce articles worth reading.

    If Stylist’s previous photo shoot in June ‘..did not run smoothly’ then so be it, some celebs are easy to work with and others aren’t, this is part and parcel of a journalists job – get used to it! Naomi isn’t partaking in the interview to ‘make friends’ and can be excused for lack lustre replies to lame, dull and uninspiring questions such as ‘Are there people who say no to you?’ (No wonder she rolled her eyes!) and ‘You have an appreciation for music’ – doesn’t everyone?! Naomi’s response to the journalists tired, old questions relating to ‘…rumours that you aren’t the easiest person to work with’ I felt was executed with a valid explanation and poise. Stylist should let the reader draw their own conclusions on the tone Naomi expressed when she delivered her answer as opposed to adding their own sly remarks in brackets. I’m sure most would agree it was a damn good answer!

    Additionally the journalist was specifically requested beforehand not to ask questions about Naomi’s personal life. Low and behold what does she do – proceed to ask questions of a personal nature – talk about antagonising! Is it any wonder she was left feeling disgruntled that the two of them didn’t ‘…get on like a house on fire’ and has the nerve to declare ‘We tried. We really did.’ Yes you certainly did try – Naomi’s patience and mine!

    Naomi came across to me as someone who has reached a higher level of maturity and a certain depth of spirituality. Strip away all of the journalists negative remarks and and what is left is some insight and a remaining air of mystery of one of Britain’s most successful models.

    • October 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks for reading and for your comment! I will be writing to the Stylist editor about the piece..we need to make our voices heard!

  6. October 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    although the tone of the article was quite unprofessional, naomi’s attitude was also unprofessional. it must have been a difficult interview, and naomi seems to be stuck-up and somewhat rude. however, this does not mean the article should have had such a biased tone – it’s their job as a magazine to try and be as unbiased as possible and do everything fairly. an interview is generally just the questions and their answers.

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