Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vogue's blackface problems

By Tenisha Mercer

Maybe Vogue didn't get the memo: Black face in 2014 -- no, eff that, at any time -- isn't cool.

But Vogue's European editions just keep doing it, over and over again, failing miserably at cultural appropriation and humanity -- period. It's to the point that, even on this blog, I don't highlight everything fashion mags, with their limited and biopic representation of Black folks, do on the regular.

Now, Vogue Italia has its turn with the March 2014 issue showing a European model with darkened skin and posing in headdresses, wrappings and animals. So you throw some brown paint on a white model and act as if African safaris are the newest, coolest, chic thing to do. Really?


Photos courtesy of Clutch

This isn't new. In Vogue's case, incidents like these stretch back years, from a black face issue in 2009, when French Vogue put supermodel Laura Stone in black face. Countless other missives have followed -- all of them bad and insensitive.

Last year, Vogue Netherlands decided to try a homage to Marc Jacob's designs for Louis Vuitton. Supposedly, it used Josephine Baker and Grace Jones as inspiration along with tribal influences. Only it ended up being yet another black face edition. It failed miserably.

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How can these magazines keep making the same careless missteps time after time in their fashion editorials when it comes to Black folk?  At a certain point, I don't write about some of it because it's just too much.

I just can't post about every little thing they do. It wears on you after a certain point. But some stuff you can't let slide, not after they keep doing it time after time. It comes to a point where you just can't ignore it anymore. 

Vogue needs to get their collective shit together. I don't care if it's the U.S. edition, Italy, Netherlands or Alaska, this isn't cool. And it's why online sites like Clutch and Coco & Creme are boycotting them. And we will, too.

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