Hot or Haute? Issa Rae Took Cosmo's 'Expensive Taste Test'—and Made Us Reconsider Our Quarantine Spending

Illustration for article titled Hot or Haute? Issa Rae Took Cosmos Expensive Taste Test—and Made Us Reconsider Our Quarantine Spending
Image: Ruth Ossai (Cosmopolitan)

It’s well-discussed fact around here at The Glow Up (and The Root, at large) that Issa Rae’s glow up is our favorite glow up. Already a beautiful woman—albeit by her own branding, both “awkward” and “insecure”—Rae has emerged as one of Hollywood’s number one stunnas, shutting down red carpets on the regular with hair done (shoutout to Felicia Leatherwood), nails done, everything did...and we love to see it.

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Illustration for article titled Hot or Haute? Issa Rae Took Cosmos Expensive Taste Test—and Made Us Reconsider Our Quarantine Spending
Image: Ruth Ossai (Cosmopolitan)

“It almost just feels like I fooled people, ‘Ha, ha, you put me on a magazine cover,’” she jokes in the June issue of Cosmopolitan—where she is the cover star—later adding, “I want to deserve to be here, and that’s part of what keeps me up at night.”

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It’s humility and self-awareness we can get behind, so when we see Ms. Rae (if you’re nasty) on a mainstream magazine cover like Cosmo, our interest is naturally piqued. After all, aside from being a new millennial paragon of black beauty, she’s also leading the charge in Black Hollywood, creating opportunities and content for black artists that have rightfully earned her the title of “the leading lady of Hollywood’s current Black Renaissance,” according to writer Ira Madison III (another beneficiary of Rae’s genius and generosity), aptly named “The Distraction Issue.”

“I want to be a pop-culture staple—a black pop-culture staple. I want to have an impact on my community. Everything I’ve done has been for—and in thinking of—black people, and I don’t take this moment lightly. I want to do right by us, at the end of the day.”

Rae drops plenty of other gems in her cover story, the photoshoot for which took place before the coronavirus outbreak overwhelmed, well, everything—including expectations about the long-awaited fourth season of Insecure, airing now on HBO.

Someone asked me if I felt pressure about this season coming on, and up until now, I hadn’t,” Rae shared from quarantine. “This f*cking virus changed everything. Most of my mentions have been like, ‘Drop it, girl, stop playing, drop all the episodes at once’—like I’m HBO. And I’m like, What the f*ck? We’re literally still mixing and editing.”

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Illustration for article titled Hot or Haute? Issa Rae Took Cosmos Expensive Taste Test—and Made Us Reconsider Our Quarantine Spending
Image: Ruth Ossai (Cosmopolitan)

Girl, we can relate (kinda). What is this insistence on nonstop productivity when the world is on fire? All we’ve really managed to consistently do while in quarantine is a whole lot of online shopping, where we are literally basing our purchases on Photoshop skills and possibly paid-for reviews. Rae no doubt knows our pain after taking Cosmo’s ‘Expensive Taste Test,’ in which a variety of well-known faces try to guess which of two similar items is more expensive. While Rae can no doubt now easily afford any of the items placed before her, she assures us her relationship to retail remains relatable.

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“I’ve been broke with expensive tastes for a long time—shoutout to Azealia [Banks],” she laughs, adding, “and I know the finer things.”

Does she? Really? After watching the video, it may be debatable (we kid, we kid). But since we love a deal, it did get us thinking about how much of our own compulsive spending is actually resulting in quality purchases. Retail therapy is a real phenomenon; the alternative is taking this unexpected downtime to slow down and reset, which is exactly what Rae thinks we should be doing.

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“We’re being forced to stop and just reevaluate, be creative in our approach,” she says. “Humans are resilient. We’re going to figure this sh*t out.”

The June issue of Cosmopolitan is available nationwide on May 12.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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