Refinery29 Teams Up With Lane Bryant To Explore How Women Feel About The Female Gaze


How should we be praising other women?Does focusing on each other’s personal strengths lead to more long-term self-love? If we could snap out of autopilot, tune out the male gaze, and unsubscribe from the mainstream media’s unrealistic expectations, what would we say to each other?

Those were the questions Refinery29 asked several women for a recent post they ran in partnership with Lane Bryant, which included several creative semi nude photos of models.

All photos by BELA BORSODI.

One of the responses that stood out most was from Dana Johnson, host of Essence Live:


Refinery29: What are the ways that women, yourself included, are challenging what they’re expected to look and act like these days?

Dana Johnson: “I host a show for Essence magazine every weekend…and I’m not typical for the brand. I have tattoos. I’m bald. In the African-American community hair’s a big deal, and I’m shaving off all my hair. A lot of YouTube comments are ‘Who is this bald, ugly girl?’ and ‘She would be pretty if…’ I’m not trying to make a statement necessarily, but it’s who I am, and it took me a long time to get comfortable being this person and looking this way, so I feel I’m challenging a group to look at beauty a little differently.” Dana Johnson, 34, journalist

Great response!  It’s actually quite shocking that in 2016 black women still question the beauty of a black woman with no hair.


Here are a few other responses that were great:

“My family didn’t really focus on beauty. They never called me ugly or anything horrible like that, but I wasn’t told I was pretty often. I semi-wish they did, or instilled the importance of self-love a bit more. I didn’t need to be showered with compliments, but they focused on intellect solely. It made me always feel like an ugly duckling amongst my friends who knew they were pretty. I also craved attention more. It took me a while before I realized I needed to see it for myself. No one could provide me with self-esteem.” Sioban Massiah

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