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A Glamour Don't September 22, 2007E-mail this story E-mail this story
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Earlier this summer, a junior staffer at Glamour magazine gave a presentation to a room of female lawyers about professional appearance. The staffer suggested that certain hairstyles were not ideal for the workplace. During the talk she showed a picture of a woman with an afro, calling it "a real no-no." She moved on to dreadlocks, calling them "shocking" and claiming that those "political hairstyles really have to go." The news slowly trickled out to the public. Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief of Glamour, talks with Weekend America about the incident.

Notes from Host Desiree Cooper

Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine, talked to me candidly about the issue of natural hairstyles and fashion. She seemed surprised and dismayed by the backlash the magazine has received following the presentation at a New York law firm.

"I couldn't disagree more strongly with the statements that natural hair is inappropriate in the workplace," she said. "That's wrong and outdated."

I asked her how African-American women are depicted in Glamour.

"I think the majority of models in the next issue have natural hair," she said.

I haven't been making an official tally, but I have been taking note of the black women I see in commercials these days. It does seem that most commercials cast black women and girls wearing natural hairstyles. Maybe Madison Avenue is ahead of the curve. And I should note that this isn't just about the majority culture rejecting black hairstyles like dreadlocks. Hampton University, an historically black college in Virginia, drew controversy last year when the dean of the business school nixed some natural hairstyles.

"Braids, dreadlocks and other unusual hairstyles are not acceptable," said the syllabus for a Leadership Application Program. The program is a required course in the school's five-year Masters of Business Administration program.

But Leive said that when it comes to corporate dress, the issue isn't about the hair style, but the presentation. Women often wear braids and dreadlocks in the business setting, and they find ways to style it, including ponytails, to add a "professional polish," she said.

Leive has been responding to the women who are writing her, outraged about the incident. She has been assuring them that, while she regrets that the comments were made, they don't represent Glamour's point of view. She also challenges women who patronize the fashion industry to keep speaking up.

"As women, we have a lot of power," she said. "My allegiance it not to some crazy beauty thing, it's to the reader. If you don't feel like you are being represented, you should certainly voice your opinion."