The Blackface Contraversary

America's Next Top Model

The episode of this seasons “America’s Next top Model” was a very different and contraversial  one for many.  To continute the long Makeup practice taboo Tyra did a photoshoot with the models and dressed them up to portray bi-racial women. 

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. Did you know that Brack Obama was considered a Famous Hapa?

The models (one being black and one asian left) — Jennifer An, Nicole Fox, Laura Kirkpatrick, Sundai Love, Brittany Markert and Erin Wagner -portrayed different ethnicities like a “Russian”, “Morrocan”,”Botswanan-Polynesian” and a “Native American East Indian”.  The models were then dressed in stereotypical clothing and placed in scenes close to the ethnicity that they were portraying.  Then the models were sent to makeup and were painted from head to toe with darker colored brown makeup to accentuate “color” to their skin.

Is this artistic diversity? 

According to, This is the second time models have been shown in dark makeup in recent weeks.
French Vogue photographed model Lara Stone in blackface for its October issue, which was particularly disturbing because the offending pictures were part of an issue celebrating models, but had hardly a black model in the magazine.
Many opinions have sparked since then and some feel as if Tyra, was no help to artistic diversity.  Susan Stiffleman, a marriage and family therapist quoted:

“It’s especially important to consider the effect on young women (the show’s primary viewers) of having Caucasian models made up to simulate women of color, rather than having — well, women of color being celebrated for their beauty. It could be considered a rather significant throwback to a time when people of African descent were excluded from mainstream theater and the arts, with white actors and performers substituted, with blackface. ”

So there you have it, must the fashion industry continue to portray artistic diversity without using real ethnic models? You be the Judge.

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