“Blackface” model sparks controversy
French magazine, Numero, is facing a backlash of controversy over using a white model with a “blackened face” in their March issue.
Blonde and blue-eyed Ondria Hardin appears as a black model in the shoot, photographed by Sebastian Kim and make-up done by Maud Laceppe. Now, logic would tell them that this would cause controversy. It has in times past, hasn’t it? Race is a sensitive issue and there are many trigger points, this being one of them. Although the model is seen in “traditional” prints, the fact that she is white has caused critics to pick-up arms. Jezebel’s Laura Beck didn’t mince words when she said, “It’s impossible to look at this and not ache for young women of color who want to pursue careers in modeling. If jobs for “African Queen” photo spreads aren’t going to use black women, what hope is there? One Tweeter user added, “More like ignorant,” while another screamed, “New low in the world of #fashion.” There were lots more but suffice it to say that this move was not well-received and that would be an understatement.
Numero issued this statement to calm stormy waters saying: “The artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim, author of this editorial, is in line with his previous photographic creations, which insist on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based on discrimination.” And they finished with this. “Considering the turmoil caused by this publication, the Management of Numero Magazine would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this editorial.”
The in-your-face stance that the magazine takes is not new. In October 2010, a white model posed as a mother to a black child which caused controversy as well. Others have followed in their footsteps using racially-provocative moves to gain publicity. The Independent featured Kate Moss wearing nothing but black paint in 2006, Claudia Schiffer posed for Karl Lagerfeld with a black face in 2012 and Illamasqua featured a black-faced model, just to name a few.