October 29, 2009

"Next top models" in blackface

The America's Next Top Model controversy is worse than I thought. Not only did a model dress as an Indian chief, but they darkened her skin to make her look more "Indian."

Blackface on 'America's Next Top Model'

By Laura KenneyContinuing the resurgence of a makeup practice long considered taboo, "America's Next Top Model" featured a number of models painted with dark makeup to resemble bi-racial women.

On the episode, which aired tonight (Oct. 28), host Tyra Banks said the goal was to create an editorial celebration of the "Hapa" (that's Hawaiian for mixed-race) children of immigrants who relocated to Hawaii to work as sugar cane farmers in the mid-19th century. Barack Obama is the most famous Hapa.

Banks tasked models with interpreting exotic racial combinations like "Russian-Moroccan," "Native American-East Indian," and "Botswanan-Polynesian," photographing them herself in the green reeds of a sugar plantation on the island of Maui.

The models--Jennifer An, Nicole Fox, Laura Kirkpatrick, Sundai Love, Brittany Markert and Erin Wagner--were styled in clothing stereotypical to the ethnicities they were asked to portray. For example, Markert, who was "Native American-East Indian," was dressed in a feathered headdress and a sari. And Love, as a "Russian-Moroccan" was styled with Russian Ushanka hat and a large walking stick.

Then, the models were sent to makeup, where each was painted with varying degrees of dark body makeup to match the perceived skin tone of the corresponding race they were conveying.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Colorface" Yesterday and Today.

Below:  "Nicole Fox strikes a pose on America's Next Top Model." (Photo courtesy of The CW)


Unknown said...

The show seems to be borrowing from Italian and French Vogue, magazines that placed white models in black face for the "effect"...both sad and beyond comprehension...

dmarks said...

European Vogue does this? Sounds like odd examples of racism that doesn't fly in the US but can be mainstream in Europe. Things like this have happened in Japan too.