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