October 28, 2009

"Think Native" on America's Next Top Model

Colourface Epidemic Infects ANTM

By Thea LimI suppose it is a good sign that we can still be shocked speechless by the racism in pop culture, right? Because it means that we aren’t totally cynical and embittered. Right?

This morning we received a tip from reader Cassandra, letting us know about last night’s episode of America’s Next Top Model, where contestants flew to Maui to do a photo shoot where they were supposed to be biracial.


We don’t usually quote directly from tipsters, but I am too stunned to paraphrase right now. Cassandra reports:

Each girl was given two ethnicities: Tibetan/Egyptian, Greek/Mexican, Moroccan/Russian, Native American/East Indian, Botswanan/Polynesian, Malagasy/Japanese. Five girls are white, one is Asian, and a few are donned in black face and all in “ethnic” outfits (a combination of an aspect of each culture, evident in the photos), which Tyra explains, “Every outfit is not necessarily what people of that culture are wearing now, it might not even be a necessary exact of what they’ve worn in the past, it’s a fashion interpretation of it.” Nicole, assigned to look Malagasy/Japanese, remarks how she’s always wondered what she looked like as a different race and that she felt she looked “exotic.” The girls had to somehow embody what people of those ethnicities were like i.e. Tyra saying, “Think Egyptian, think [insert ethnicity], think of what those people were like, etc.”
Comment:  I'm not sure if it means anything, but it's cute how they paired Indian and (Asian) Indian.

A "fashion interpretation" of Native designs that may have religious significance? I guess that's a polite way of saying bastardization, ripoff, mockery, etc.

I also like Tyra's "think of what those people were like." Right, because indigenous people are a thing of the past. No one looks or acts like that anymore. We're all Americans in this global village of ours.

I trust I don't have to say more about this ANTM bit. Newspaper Rock readers should know why it's wrong.

Here's a gallery of the models pretending to belong to other ethnic groups:

New Pics:  Tyra Transforms The 'America's Next Top Model' Hopefuls

For more on the subject, see "Colorface" Yesterday and Today, Tricking or Treating Indians, and Indian Wannabes.


Anonymous said...

Why the heck does Tyra think this is okay?!

Anonymous said...

Just found out that they did this before, in 2005:

Michelle is supposed to "be" Inuit, Kahlen is supposed to "be" Native Hawaiian and Tiffany is supposed to "be" Native American. WTF? I really don't understand what they gain through this... Is this deliberately outrageous, so as to create attention?