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Jezebel Magazine has the following scans of the October issue of French Vogue, which features Dutch model Lara Stone in what has been called contemporary Blackface:
The issue, dedicated to supermodels, features Naomi Campbell in small front of the book articles, but Ms. Stone is the only “woman of color” who scored a multipage editorial. Shot by Steven Klein and styled by Carine Roitfeld, Stone dons seemingly ethnic inspired feathered garb while holding a meditative, almost angry gaze:
The editors at Jezebel say, “What Klein and Roitfeld should know…is that painting white people black for the entertainment of other white people is offensive in ways that stand entirely apart from cultural context...something about the act of portraying a white woman as black ought to sound an alarm, somewhere.”
A little history: As early as the 15th century, white actors used blackface to portray stereotypical archetypes of African-Americans (the buffoonish, lazy, lascivious cowardly male or matronly, at times mannish mammy). The practice, called mistrelsy, was used to promote and cement racist attitudes and feelings about black people. Though Lara Stone is missing the white outline around the mouth or bright red lipstick, this photo shoot definitely strikes a raw nerve:
Why the French Vogue team thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Some things you should never be so bold as to say or do, but it seems there are no standards of grace or social decorum when it comes to fashion.
Some say the images are simply artistic, and that calling the shots ‘racist’ is going too far.
What do you think?
For more about blackface, view this montage from Spike Lee’s 2000 film Bamboozled: