“Black Face” vs A Black Face

“Black Face” make-up is nothing new. It originated in the 1800s by minstrels to imitate how White people thought Black people looked.  According to Black Face, during that time, Black performers were not allowed in the company of White audiences unless they were covered in the exaggerated make-up of  a “layer of burnt cork on a layer of coca butter or black grease paint” and big red lips painted around their mouths.  While still highly offensive , “Black Face” make-up has evolved since then. Now it’s more sophisticated.

According to Black Media Scoop, many members and admires of the fashion world are upset that a 16 year old White model Ondria Hardin, was painted in Black make-up to portray an African queen. Hardin, is clearly not the least bit close to a person of color and fellow models showed their disapproval online with comments such as “Can I see a black girl do SCANDANAVIAN PRINCESS please?” and “Googled her name and this girl is ALABASTER,”  and “Also, do I detect a hint of texturing in her hair to give her that “ethnic look,” rounding out this shitshow?”, said two Black models.

BMS reported that Numéro Magazine, featured Hardin painted in full brown body paint from head to toe and dressed in traditional African attire such as “tall cloth headdress, layered silver jewelry, and dusty prints”. Many, including myself might ask “why use a White model when you could just use a Black one?” The answer, apparently Black models are few and far between in the fashion industry or worse case scenario, they may just prefer a White model. BMS reported that at “New York Fashion Week this season, an astonishing 82 percent of models were white. Of the remaining 18 percent, only 6 percent were black”.

This is not the first time the magazine or fashion industry has used a White model painted in “Black Face” for the sake of fashion.

As reported by Black Media Scoop:

In 2006, fair-skinned Kate Moss posed for The Independent wearing nothing but black paint covering her face and body. In 2010, Claudia Schiffer posed for Karl Lagerfeld in yellow and blackface, wearing an afro-like wig, sequined top and brown face and body paint. And in 2012, make-up brand Illamasqua featured a model in dark face paint and makeup.

Unless they were trying to compare cultures in some way or conduct some “who wore it best” contest, I think an experienced Black model could have gotten the job done of portraying an African queen. Do you think the fashion industry lacks so few qualified Black models that they have to resort to what they have more of? On the other hand, couldn’t they have just had a casting to call to find a Black model? Do you think those involved in the fashion industry have any remorse or understand how Black Face can be offensive or do you think they just see it as a job?

Would you like to see a Black model portray a prominent figure in White or European culture?

Tell us your thoughts.

Dr. O

Picture source: http://www.blackmediascoop.com/2013/02/27/outrage-after-white-model-poses-as-african-queen/

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