The Jet Beauty of the Week (1952- ) is the picture of a swimsuit model that appears each week in Jet, a Black American magazine. The beauties started out as centrefolds in the style of pin-up girls. Jet stopped printing magazines in 2014, but it is still online, still putting out a new beauty every week along with the rest of its content. It is one of its best known features.
Both Marilyn McCoo and Pam Grier appeared as a Jet Beauty of the Week before becoming famous (click to enlarge):
Freda Payne, Jayne Kennedy, Judy Pace, Ja’Net DuBois (Willona on “Good Times”) and Lola Falana were also Jet Beauties at one point. Two singers of the Fifth Dimension were Jet Beauties of the Week (McCoo and Florence LaRue) while a third was a long-time Jet photographer who took many of the pictures: LeMonte McLemore. You will see his name on some of the pictures below.
Some of the beauties are professional models, but many are not. Some are in-house models that you can see elsewhere in the magazine.
Nearly all are Black. The idea was to present Black women as beautiful and glamorous in a country that so often presented them as not. But its sort of beauty was, is, limited in at least two ways:
- It sticks determinedly to the swimsuit model sort of beauty. From 1959 to 1993, it even provided body measurements!
- While it fought against internalized racist ideas of beauty, it was unavoidably affected by that very racism. Many of its earlier models look White or very close to it. Only slowly over time has it moved towards a Blacker sort of beauty.
- 1952: The first beauties. Mostly shown as centrefolds till 1969.
- 1959: body measurements become common (till 1993)
- 1969: Afros common (till 1980); the end of centrefolds.
- 1970: change to colour.
- 1984: title added: BEAUTY OF THE WEEK.
- 1994: title put in lower-case: beauty of the week,
- 2004: words in the title put in different colours.
- 2006: website address now appears (till 2014).
- 2010: title is now “Jet Beauty” or “Beauty”.
- 2014: online only. Writing no longer appears on the picture itself.
Some examples from each decade (click to enlarge):
1950s: the first one is from 1954, the other two from 1956:
1960s: from 1962 and 1965:
1970s: both from 1970:
1980s: from 1985 and 1989:
1990s: from 1993 and 1994:
2000s: from 2002 (showing Lizz Robbins, who I did a post on, back when I regularly did posts on swimsuit models) and 2009:
2010s: the first is from 2014, the other two from 2015:
The range of beauty is far broader than what you see above: I only picked pictures that I liked. Some Jet beauties are too thin or pale for my tastes. Sometimes the woman on the cover of the magazine is better looking than the beauty inside!
Compared to the women I put on Tumblr, Jet beauties:
- are less beautiful on average (because they are not always chosen according to my tastes!),
- show way more skin (as if they live at the beach, not in the city), and
- are far less likely to have a natural hairstyle.
– Abagond, 2016.
Images: Jet magazine.
- Jet: Beauty of the Week
- Abagond’s Tumblr
- Jet Beauties
- internalized racism
- “Black is beautiful”
- Other magazines with beautiful Black women:
- or with hardly any Black women:
- or with an extra helping of denigration: