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"Imus showed that regardless of accomplishments and achievements, in the minds of so many whites, we are still nappy headed black folks, period," he said. "The basketball team was reduced to what they think of us all the time nappy headed people who shouldn't be there, anyway."

How black models are used or not used seems the result of a creative point a designer wants to make rather than intentional racism, suggested Ms. Givhan.

On the other hand, the black women who enjoy the greatest prominence in the industry Beyonce, Halle Berry, Liya Kebede, for example nearly always are fair skinned with smooth hair.

While terms such as "tramp" once were used only in reference to loose women, Lv Belt White

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"As someone I interviewed a long time ago said, in fashion, race is nothing but a color chip. It's not conscious 'racism.' The designers see a difference and use those differences to illustrate a point, completely oblivious to the fact that those are the characteristics of feeling human beings."

he said, similar terms are now used routinely to describe black women in general.

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During segregation and after desegregation, they suffered doubly for being black and female in a culture that esteemed neither.

Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhan, who last year became the first journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism, described a "weird display" at the Givenchy fall 2006 fashion preview in Paris.

Although Ms. fashion magazines or the faces in fragrance and cosmetics ads.

When Sudan born model Alek Wek emerged on the international fashion stage in 1995, many Americans beheld her Hershey complexion and short, kinky hair and pronounced her ugly.

Even as they grapple with social obstacles and cultural oppression, black women revel in their beauty. From hair and makeup to clothes and accessories, everything is meticulously maintained to present an image of loveliness that time and adversity have been unable to erode.

Mr. Campbell and others perceive the marginalization of black women in the fashion and beauty industry as a reflection of general lack of appreciation of black women's beauty in wider society.

A conversation in Paris with a black booker for a modeling agency helped Ms. Givhan understand one of the reasons black models have trouble getting highly visible gigs.

"He said he was trying to get more black models work in Paris," she recalled. "The problem, he said, is that [magazine] editors and designers will say that if they put the clothes on black models, people don't notice the clothes, they notice the girl as if the sight of a black model is so rare and distracting that people will gawk."

Mr. Campbell, who was fashion editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer for a decade, is also a frequent guest judge on the hit CW show "America's Next Top Model."

Black women are least likely to be perceived as attractive and worthy of respect, some observers say, which may be why groups ranging from black rap artists to black comedians to white radio hosts have no problem denigrating them.

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"I joked with someone about the black girls, saying, 'Were they the porters?' " said Ms. Givhan, who is black. "My guess is that the designer, Riccardo Tisci, wanted to separate those pieces, the little black dresses that are so iconic to the label. He also, I'm guessing, wanted to show the accessories. Honestly, I don't think it got much more complicated than that in the designer's mind. I guarantee you that the designer didn't for one second think that what he was doing could be seen as offensive."

Routinely at New York Fashion Week, many womenswear designers hire only one black model, or none. BCBG's Max Azria is among a handful of designers who never send black models down their runways.

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The show opened with six black models wearing black outfits and black accessories, some carrying black luggage like bags. They were followed by white models and were not seen again in the show.

And the darker her skin and the kinkier her hair, it seems, the less she is valued.

"Biracial, multiracial, ethnic ambiguity is what I'm seeing more and more of for men and women, from adults to children on TV, in commercials," said Dr. Andrews. "The illusion of white ancestry [in blacks] is just enough to tweak people, to conjure up images of illicit sex. The color dynamic has a huge influence on who is actually presented, unless there's Louis Vuitton Belt Back

More recently, the physical attributes historically possessed by black women were deemed undesirable by America's wider society until women of other ethnic groups began to exhibit them. Cornrows weren't chic until Bo Derek got them, curvaceous derrieres weren't sexy until Jennifer Lopez came along, and full lips were unattractive until Angelina Jolie's Belt Gucci Price kissers showed up and sparked a cottage industry of lip plumping potions.

´╗┐American women haven't had an easy time in the fashion world

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They endured abuse and rape by slave masters and overcame the injustice of being bred and worked like animals.

exoticism in terms of dark skin. Even among whites, it's the extreme Scandinavian look that still has favor one way or another."

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