I strongly agree with Laura Beck's statement to the Huffington Post:
It's impossible to look at this and not ache for young women of color who want to pursue careers in modeling (and arguably, fashion by extension). When they don't see themselves on the runway or in magazines, it could be very easy for them to think, "huh, I guess modeling isn't for me." Then the status quo remains, and the runways remain monotone. If jobs for "African Queen" photo spreads aren't going to black women, what hope is there?I would like to believe there is hope, but when I see things like this... *shakes head*
You know what I love about this though? The crazy justifications for it! People are saying "Hold up, some Africans are white!" Well duh, some Africans are of European or Asian decent as well. But does a blond-haired blue-eyed girl come to mind when one thinks of an African Queen? No, I don't think so. Clearly it didn't come to the mind of the photographer or editor when they thought to paint this girl's skin darker and okayed the printing, respectively.
But it gets better than the silly justifications. No, seriously, it does. Sadly.
To add insult upon injury, both Numero magazine and the photographer, Sebastian Kim, sent "apologies" to The Huffington Post. Observe:
Some people have declared that they have been offended by the publication in Numéro magazine n°141 of March 2013, of an editorial realized by the photographer Sebastian Kim called “African Queen”, featuring the American model Ondria Hardin posing as an “African queen”, her skin painted in black.
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 discrimination. Numéro has always supported the artistic freedom of the talented photographers who work with the magazine to illustrate its pages, and has not took part in the creation process of this editorial.
For its part, Numéro Magazine, which has the utmost respect for this photographer’s creative work, firmly excludes that the latest may have had, at any moment, the intention to hurt readers’ sensitivity, whatever their origin.
Numéro Magazine considers that it has regularly demonstrated its deep attachment to the promotion of different skin-colored models. For instance, the next issue of Numéro for Man on sale on 15th march has the black model Fernando Cabral on the cover page, and the current Russian edition’s cover of our magazine features the black model Naomi Campbell on its cover. This demonstrates the completely inappropriate nature of the accusations made against our magazine, deeply committed to the respect for differences, tolerance and more generally to non-discrimination.
Considering the turmoil caused by this publication, the Management of Numéro Magazine would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this editorial.
--Numero MagazineNow, let us analyze this "apology". Firstly, the magazine claims there is no discrimination as they respect the idea of a melting pot, a mix of cultures. Oh, and they frown upon discrimination...which is why they didn't choose a black model for this shoot. Hmm. And we readers? Well, we're just too sensitive. Then we have the famous "I'm not racists because I have black friends" type of justification in the form of "our magazine is not racist because we use POC as models". And in closing, we see that we're been fooled; this ain't an apology at all since the accusations were "inappropriate" in the first place.
Inappropriate Numero? Really? But this is not the first time you've done this, jus' sayin'...:
|From Numero magazine, 2010.|
Another painted white model. *facepalm*
I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding around my recent photos for Numero France. It was never my intention (nor Numero’s) to portray a black woman in this story. Our idea and concept for this fashion shoot was based on 60's characters of Talitha Getty, Verushka and Marissa Berenson with middle eastern and Moroccan fashion inspiration. We at no point attempted to portray an African women by painting her skin black. We wanted a tanned and golden skin to be showcased as part of the beauty aesthetic of this shoot.
It saddens me that people would interpret this as a mockery of race. I believe that the very unfortunate title “African Queen” (which I was not aware of prior to publication) did a lot to further people’s misconceptions about these images. It was certainly never my intention to mock or offend anyone and I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who was offended.
Sebastian KimI'm gonna call BS on his "inspiration" and the fact that he "didn't know". None of the models he mentioned are as dark-skinned as Ondria was made to be, and if he was shocked at the title of the spread when it came out he should have protested from the get-go.
As annoying, shocking, and offensive as this spread and the "apologies" are, I was quite happy to pictures on Tumblr from another recent fashion story from Vogue Japan titled "The Vanishing Underground" featuring two African models, David Agboji and Liya Kebede. It's gorgeous: