Thursday, February 28, 2013

French Magazine Comes Under Fire for Calling White Model in Dark Face "African Queen"

By Tenisha Mercer

Numero's March issue featuring Ondria Hardin in bronze face
Fashion never disappoints --- especially when it comes to its depiction of Black models. The latest controversy centers around a French magazine, Numéro, darkening the skin of 16-year old model, Ondria Hardin, and proclaiming her an "African Queen" in its March issue.


When Will Black Models Get Their Due?

I'm so tired of this lack of disrepect. Whether it's ghetto photo spreads, jungle earrings or virtually no representation in top magazines, Black models get no respect -- and this is just the latest example. What bothers me, and others such as former supermodel, modeling agency owner and RHOA star Cynthia Bailey, is that not only did the mag darken the model's skin, but they proclaimed her as an  "African Queen," featuring tribal jewelry and attire.

So is this what they do nowdays? Add some bronze foundation to a white model, throw on some gold cuffs and accessories, tie on a headwrap and call it "African"?

As if there are no young black models to pick? There are tons of them! That headline is what got the mag in deep trouble. For its part, the mag has apologized, saying they didn't mean to offend, denied any racist motives, pushed the blame onto the photographer, and said it didn't create the spread. It trumpeted its featuring of Black models like Naomi Campbell in its men's issue. 

I'm not buying any of that. Sounds just like the, "My best friends are black" line. Bullshit.

Bronze faced, black faced. Where does it end?

But this spread did run in it Numero's magazine -- which they have ultimate editorial control. And how they could have let this pass, I'll never know. No one said, 'you know, this might not be a good  look?" And they probably didn't, because not only are Black models underrepresented, but so, too, are diverse magazine editors and writers in the fashion industry.

The photographer on this shoot was Sebastian Kim, who has shot multi-cultural spreads before. Kim issued his own separate statement and said he never intended to portray a  Black woman.

"We at no point attempted to portray an African women by painting her skin black. We wanted a tanned and golden skin to be showcased as part of the beauty aesthetic of this shoot. It saddens me that people would interpret this as a mockery of race," he wrote.

"I believe that the very unfortunate title 'African Queen' (which I was not aware of prior to publication) did a lot to further people's misconceptions about these images. It was certainly never my intention to mock or offend anyone and I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who was offended."

I'm not seeing how that is so, when you have a model with a skin complexion like mine and millions of other Black women.

Is Fashion Just For White Folks?

This is latest in a string of downright insults in the fashion indsutry involving Black models, from "ghetto" fashion spreads, to "jungle" fashions to no Black models appearing in high fashion mags.

How many times do we complain about this before things change? The magazine has been widely criticized for this spread, and rightly so. There are plenty of young Black models that the mag could have chosen from; instead, they decided to pick a young Cacausian model, who, by the way, insiders say would have had very little control of how her images were displayed.

She's 16; I don't expect her to know that much, because of her age.

But I do expect grown ass editors and especially the photographer who snapped this to get a damn clue that it's racially insensitive to the millions of Black women who are, indeed, African queens -- and have the rich melanin hues to prove it.

What do you think of this cover?

No comments:

Post a Comment