February 26th, 2013
Diversity, Fashion News, Snapshot
White Model Ondria Hardin Poses in Numéro’s African Queen Editorial: What is Fashion’s Obsession with Blackface?
By Claire

Jezebel recently uncovered snapshots of 16-year-old white model Ondria Hardin, posing in a March 2013 editorial by Numéro titled ‘African Queen.

0 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
The pictures show the young lady, dipped in a deep bronze paint, wearing turbans, bold cuffs, statement necklaces, and a smattering of prints.

00 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
08 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen

Is she an African Queen? Well, no, not at all. Ms. Hardin is a native of Lumberton, North Carolina. Which begs the question: Why use her over a black model? Why this obsession with painting white models in bronze/black face?
05 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen

You may remember another French magazine, Paris Vogue, dipping Dutch model Lara Stone in chocolate in an October 2009 editorial (see it here).
Lara Stone Blackface French Vogue
Lara Stone Blackface French Vogue
The world erupted with cries of ‘racism’ so strong, CNN addressed the controversy.

But then V Magazine painted Sasha Pivavarova (a Russian model) black in their #62 Winter 2009/2010 issue, shot by Mario Sorrenti.
Blackface V Magazine
And then Numéro was at it again (or for the first time) with Constance Jablonski (a French model) wearing bronzer and an Afro, and posing with a black baby (read our story about it here):

Though Numéro’s first go at blackface was ultimately deemed only mildly offensive because Ms. Jablonski wasn’t totally bronzed in ALL the pictures, all other instances of white women being painted black or deep brown has been met with controversy, outcries, and universal head shaking. So why do magazines continue to do this? Why not use a black model instead of continuing to stab the poker in our eyes and twist?
04 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
In her article about this latest Blackface instance, Jezebel editor Laura Beck (who isn’t black*) writes, “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 reigns, and the runways remain monotone. If jobs for “African Queen” photo spreads aren’t going to black women, what hope is there?”
06 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
I have to agree. We’ve been reporting on Blackface in Fashion since 2009 (which is why I was able to reference past instances so easily. See the full category here). Every time it happens, people hem and haw, but absolutely nothing changes. Things have gotten nominally better in the past 3 or 4 years, but there hasn’t been change in any real way–at least not enough to stop with this blackface nonsense.
010 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
Which leads me to wonder: Does The Fashion Industry Care about Black People?
What do you think?

*I included that Laura is not black so that we’re not attacked for being too sensitive as black women writing a multicultural site. Read her full article on Jezebel here.

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67 Responses to “White Model Ondria Hardin Poses in Numéro’s African Queen Editorial: What is Fashion’s Obsession with Blackface?”

  1. But then why not take a black model?! Smh

  2. AH says:

    What is fashion’s obsession with blackface? I don’t know or care. Was this posted just to piss people off? But I’m not a blogger nor am I employed by FBD so hey, whatever floats you guy’s boats.

  3. Claire says:

    @AH This wasn’t posted to piss people off. As a Fashion News site, we report on the latest of what’s going on in the fashion world–including this controversial editorial featuring yet another instance of blackface. Instead of simply including the pix, I documented the whole past of the issue to give you some context.
    If you don’t care or have anything to add, why comment?

  4. AH says:

    What is a successful fashion blog without comments? They won’t always be cheerful positive, happy-go-lucky but they are contributing to the popularity, viewership, and growth of the site.

    But before I get attacked by your readers, I’ll agree to disagree and move on.

  5. JK says:

    I feel like blackface (when shown through a “fashion” lens) is done because a darker skin color is deemed beautiful/exotic (when the spread/clothes call for it), but the features aren’t. Why not kill two birds with one stone and darken a model who already has “acceptable”, “non-threatening” features? It’s all pretty disturbing and ugly and offensive.

  6. COCO says:

    O.K, so instead of employing a black african model with these features, they’d rather get a white model and spend extra makeup budget on painting her skin black -____-….and its 2013. I just can’t….

  7. Rae says:

    African Queen? I think not. This photo shoot is doing way too much. They wouldn’t take a Black model and paint her with white skin and dye her hair and say Scottish Queen or what-not. It’s all so backwards! I hope in the near future “minority” populations can define their own standards of beauty and have our own presence established in the fashion world. Why is the entire planet judged through European standards of beauty? Why does the entire planet allow this to happen?

  8. Archel says:

    I really appreciate the response from the Jezebel editor. At this point I think the magazines like the negative feedback. It’s like (Kanye voice) “Fashion magazines do not care about black people.”

  9. Sad says:

    And I’m not shocked. Didn’t we see this mess with Beyonce and Kim Kardashian.
    AS FOR IT BEING A WHITE WOMAN- Our image, culture, history, resources,people,ideas, norms and anything else are always being stolen AND I don’t find it as a gesture of flattery. They could have gotten a black model but I would like to say thank you to the black models who might have refused this offer to stigmatize the image of black women internationally in the name of Euro-centric measures of black imagination and beauty.

  10. Tea says:

    I find this very disturbing. As a Zimbabwean, I don’t have an issue with the use of white models for an editorial for ‘African Queen’ because there are white people in Africa. I do however take issue with the fact that she’s ‘bronzed up’ to look like she’s dark skinned. The underlying message of this is if you have this skin colour then these are the features you should aspire to have and that is disheartening.

  11. J. Nicole says:

    I agree that people get excited for a bit, then move on and still continue to support these magazines & its affiliates. This is why even though I love fashion, I do not support the industry. If a magazine has proven time & time again to be offensive, and publish pieces that blatantly show “You are not my target audience so I don’t care about your feelings”, I’m not going to support it. I only hope other people do the same, but I’m not holding my breath.

  12. steph says:

    This really saddens n angers me both at the same time. This is not a a true portrayal of an african queen n darkening a white model under this title illustrates racism still exists!! Rascism will never go away but i think the most important thing is that black ppl need to uphold our culture n values n traditions not european westernized version. I really dnt understand white ppl they love to emphasis their auperority

  13. A says:

    This is disgusting and disappointing.

  14. steph says:

    * love to emphasise their superiority yet crave to be of a darker skin tone, wamt full lips etc. Lorrrdd this world. smh

  15. A shame!! The theme of the editorial is African Queen and they couldn’t find ONE black model??? Seriously? Although the fashion industry has made some improvements since 2009 in being more diverse (we’ve seen a lot more minorities on runways), this proves that we still have a very long way to go.

  16. 1tallchick says:

    We can’t only blame the magazines for this nonsense. At some point these models have to stand and refuse to do shoots like this. I understand in this business by refusing work you may ruin your career however it has to start somewhere. If models don’t agree to participate then what are the magazines going to do?

  17. WOW! The ultimate disrespect… African Queen???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. shaun says:

    I agree with @Tea. It seems being an “African Queen” is only accepted as long as you have certain features that aren’t traditionally found on women of color. Yes, there are white women in Africa and there are many shades of skin color in Africa. In that case, it should have been acceptable to photograph her without darkening her skin.

  19. mi manning says:

    I really want to say that the world is going backwards, everything but technology. So, i’m a turn a – to a + and say ,”Hey! Can you blame them? Err’body wanna be black…it’s the most beautiful creation from the universe…especially the black woman! Can’t be mad at that!”

  20. Lindsey says:

    This is a racist world we live in no matter how much people try to act like its not it is. There are many beautiful African Queens that could have been used which have the most beautiful features ever seen but to go and paint a white woman dark and label it art is offensive. If we were to take a black woman and paint her white and call her an European Princess people would be up in arms. Same way when we see top magazine covers and they lighten the faces of African American women such as Beyonce or Rihanna to sell a cover. Lets really think about when have we last seen darkskin women (excluding Naomi) such as Kelly Rowland or India Arie on large scale publications besides Essence, Jet & Smooth type magazines. 2013 is not much different from the 1960s except instead of fighting for Civil Rights were fighting to be respected. Thanks Claire for this post!

  21. Starr says:

    Nothing will change until models take a stand and say enough is enough! White models should refuse being covered in bronze paint and put in magazines as Africans Queens! Give the job to an ACTUAL black model.

  22. Macy says:

    It is Marc Jacobs who discovered this girl and puts her everywhere! MJ is the brain behind this editorial, it was his idea. He manipulates the whole fashion world. Did you hear that Marc Jacobs has been cruelly torturing a young girl for 5 years? He steals her fashion designes, stalkes her and copies all her photos for big campaignes. She is called Angel Barta. There are more details with evidences on: http://styleangelique.blogspot.hu/2012/12/marc-jacobs-godfather-in-sponge-bob.html

  23. Macys says:

    It is Marc Jacobs who discovered this girl and puts her everywhere! MJ is the brain behind this editorial, it was his idea. He manipulates the whole fashion world. Did you hear that Marc Jacobs has been cruelly torturing a young girl for 5 years? He steals her fashion designes, stalkes her and copies all her photos for big campaignes. She is called Angel Barta. There are more details with evidences on: styleangelique.blogspot. hu/2012/12/marc-jacobs-godfather-in-sponge-bob

  24. jeda says:

    Of course, I am disappointed that this is still going on and I think that JK hit the nail on the head. Apparently our skin is beautiful but our features aren’t. I am not surprised, but I am ashamed that this is still going on in 2013. You think we’ve overcome a certain level of racism, and then BAM! It hits us right back in the ass.

    But just a quick question to offer a different perspective. What do you guys think of when black people color their skin darker in the name of fashion and art. For instance, this photoshoot Beyonce did in a darker tone:

    http://rapfix.mtv.com/2011/02/24/experts-react-to-beyonces-black-face-photo-shoot/

    (she also had a dark tone photoshoot inn the Dream Girls movie)

    Blessings

  25. RHONYC says:

    i could easily see Jourdan cast in this ed.
    ALL the black models demandeth much coin $$$ these days & i think this was their way of doing an editorial on the cheap without paying the price for a quality black / w.o.c. model.
    F-A-I-L

  26. Aynai Sy says:

    Great post Claire, the topic is definitely relevant to what your blog is all about thanks for enlightening us. I just believe that we as women of color have to let our voices be heard . This editorial as beautiful as it is, was done in poor taste. Why not just hirer a beautiful women of color and call her the African Queen , is that to complicated ? No they decided to paint a white girl black really ?

  27. Taj says:

    The issue is and will always be that these editorials want to define what a beautiful black person should look like. In their eyes a beautiful black woman is one with the features of a white woman but with darker skin. They can’t have it both ways where you want to exploit someone’s culture but not utilize the people whose culture you find so interesting and unique.

  28. Christina says:

    Cause they want to be us so bad obviously. Lip injections, tans, butt shots, etc. Where does it end? Too bad its only an imitation. Everyone please watch the documentary “Hidden Colors” it’ll explain more.

  29. KBS says:

    I don’t even care anymore. Everyone wants to look racially ambiguous anyway; black noses are too big, white skin is too pale, African lips are too big, Swedish lips are too small, nappy is too nappy ( I want to go natural, but I’ll jump through 82 hoops to get it to look like Curly Nikki’s). I give up, do you, sell your mags, make your money.

  30. libby17 says:

    JK: I feel like blackface (when shown through a “fashion” lens) is done because a darker skin color is deemed beautiful/exotic (when the spread/clothes call for it), but the features aren’t. Why not kill two birds with one stone and darken a model who already has “acceptable”, “non-threatening” features? It’s all pretty disturbing and ugly and offensive.

    ________

    An intriguing point JK!

  31. Bella says:

    A very LOOOONG way to go. To me this is the equivalent of Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone, parading around in blackface for the sake of ‘art’. Yet not as much outrage over it. To answer the question “Does The Fashion Industry Care about Black People?” The answer is NO. And neither does the movie industry but what else is new. WE HAVE TO BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. Complaining alone is not enough. We have to CREATE opportunities for OURSELVES because they are certainly not made nor given to us as can be seen over and over and over and OVER again. How many times do we have to complain and speak about it before something gets done? An infinite amount which basically means never. So what’s the solution? CREATE OUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES where we are not dependent on others to respect and value us…when not enough of us even do that.

  32. I’m over this conversation.

  33. @paparazzi_promo says:

    no I fashion industry does not care for people of color ….it’s sad but I mean look at what the media potrays basically if your not lightskin with long hair weigh atleast 120 than your ugly …people need to wake up & realize that your beautiful the way you are big purple small short hair ….shouldn’t matter

  34. anon says:

    I never believed that the fashion industry cared about black people. We are too powerful for them. They love to steal our ideas, change the name and call it fashionable, but to put us at the forefront…hell nah! This article and others like it are so disgusting and infurtiating to me and just reiterate the racist world we live in. Thats why I will never understand all of the rappers praising, naming themselves, and falling at the feet of people that dont GAF about them (please excuse my languae, Claire).

  35. binks says:

    Wow talk about a misappropriation of culture! As Paul Mooney said, “everybody wants to be black, but NOBODY really wants to be black.” I always view things like this as they want to intimate us, steal from us but don’t want to use us or give credit where it is due. The fashion/magazine industry is notorious for its racism so I’ am not surprised. I wish we start waking up and hitting these people where it hurts like in their pockets and protesting their sponsors!

  36. nmillmich25 says:

    Its a very very slow day at work, so I followed the link that @ Macy posted! That is some crazyyyyy asssss shitttt!

    Potential mental patient or victim! You guys should look it up.. she was recently featured in Refinery29 and The Friskly.. So far the consensus is that she “two steps away from the nut house”…

    Poor thing I sympathize with her either way!

    Oh yeah btw Shame on you Numero!

  37. ONYX says:

    Good Job Claire,
    I’m just wondering how folks felt about Beyonce and her L’Offciel black face shoot, another homage to African queens. It’s all offensive and disrespectful. I like Beyonce, but when I saw those photos, I lost respect for her (and I have the original magazine) she’s a black woman and should have stood against this trend. Overall, I like your coverage of this issue, sorry if I missed the coverage of the Beyonce Black Face.

  38. SWAGGERWARD says:

    HI, CLAIRE I FIRST WOULD LIKE TO SAY I’M A FELLOW BLOGGER AND YOU ARE TRULY AN INSPIRATION FOR ME, I THINK PEOPLE HAVE A SENSE TO SWEEP THE TRUTH UNDER THE RUG BUT ,YOU STATE IT HEAD ON , I APPRECIATE YOU AND THIS IS ALOT SOME TIMES, THINGS ARE OBVIOUS . THEY’RE ARE SO MANY THINGS IN THIS WORLD THAT HAS BEEN STOLEN OR BEAT OUT US. OUR LOVE FOR OUR SKIN HAS BEEN AN CHALLENGE FOR SOME . WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP THE BEAUTY OF OUR SKIN OF ALL THINGS AND NOT SEE SOMEONE PAINTING IT ON . IF YOU EVER HAVE TIME PLEASE STOP IN ON MY BLOG http://www.southernerswag.blogspot.com much love :)

  39. steph says:

    I commented earlier but i wanna make another point. Thinking deeply about this issue, white ppl, etc basically non-black ppl dont wanna be BLACK dey wanna steal BLACK CULTURE!! our music, our fashion, our food EVERYTHING EVEN OUR MEN GAD DAMMIT!! its sooo BLOODY ANNOYING AND FRUSTRATING!! and the sad thing is to a certain extent black ppl are allowing them to do this!! We defo need to start creating opportunities for ourselves as black ppl( a girl earlier on made this point and i whole heartedly 2000 per cent agree with her). Enough is Enough *throws hands in the air* …white people love to steal everything not just from black ppl, but asians as well because they HAVE NO culture!! this is why i really dont understand why not all but a majority of black men hook up with non-black women n den go on about black dis black dat. no joke i feel like come 2050 everyone is just gona be mixed and no one is gona really understand their ROOTS!! cah as Bob Marley rightly put it in buffalo soldier ” IF YOU DONT KNOW YOUR HISTORY THEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOUR COMING FROM”

  40. mirage says:

    Clearly they feel black people aren’t good enough to portray black people SMDH. And I am so sick of people saying it’s not an issue or blogs do this to get women angry as if being angry is an inappropriate reaction. I am proud to be black, I am proud to be African, to have full sexy lips, a round butt, a small waist, a round nose, frizzy hair, to speak my mother tongue fluently and confound white people who can’t understand what my friends and I are saying about them, to have dark skin, to be able to shake my booty on the dancefloor and to be able to overcome every bit of racism that is thrown at me and still come out on top and better than those that feel that I should shut up and take it. I am proud to be me and I will not stand for anyone denigrating me based on my looks or skin colour as I am more and better than that.

  41. Minnesota says:

    Why not hire a black model? This is crazy!

  42. deidre says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. It’s apparent a black model could have been utilized for the spread, but they chose not to. I’ve tried thinking of several reasons as to why a black model was not used: simply they didn’t want to use a black model; deals possibly made behind the scenes with the agency to front certain models, racism (not wanting to use a black model is not the same as racism here); needing one feature (black skin) outweighed the necessity of a multitude of other features that can (not all black women have full body parts or facial features) come with black skin. After thinking through all the possible scenarios, the only resonating thought is that this is indeed overt racism.

    Not wanting to use a black model is okay (to some degree) because when I want a certain job done…I only want a certain person (read: black) to do it. This doesn’t make me racist. If I go to a hair salon, I’m going to a black salon because I know they can work with my natural hair and the style I want. But to have a spread depicting a certain type of people and to utilize a model who isn’t indicative of said people is an unadulterated racist act. And if there is some unknown agency code (everyone has their unseen hookups), well at least utilize the model accordingly.

    The part I’m iffy on…if knowing all the above factors, as a black model who could serve ferociously for this spread, would I want to be on set where I wasn’t the ultimate choice? Personally, no…but modeling isn’t my bread and butter either.

    So, yes, this is racist; but, I think the bigger question is how do we bridge black models who are working to not work with certain designers/brands (who pull racist stunts) when blacks power hold isn’t as strong as their counterparts? In other words, how do the working black models not get blacklisted when they aim to take a stand in a white industry?

  43. Amber says:

    Sometimes I ponder this myself…DOES fashion care about Black folk? I doubt it, because many industries in this world doesn’t. But if we continue to support these publications they will see nothing wrong. The minority buying power is extremely strong, we need to stop purchasing these magazines. Just like the boycotting of buses made a change back in the 60′s doing so will and can make a change as well.

    - Amber

  44. D.A. says:

    As a singer, I can already tell you that this is going to be an inspiration for my next mixtape cover. I’ll grab a black model with ‘the appropriate features’ and color her caucasion whilst the album title has something to do ‘with being black’. Voila.

    I can’t speak for ‘Numero’ but I can speak for myself when I say that brands such as these have to sell some kind of controversy to make a quick buck (i.e. Fox News). Maybe the intent was to show their blatant racism and ignorant. Or maybe showcase how audaciously nonchalant and lazy they are in looking for the ‘right’ black model for such a spread. Maybe, maybe not!!!! either way we’re talking about it like it’s not supposed to be 1955 or the turn of the 20th Century (when Minstrel Shows were the norm).

    Last I checked there were and are black owned publications (both in print and online) in the world that cater to a target marget consisting of black men and women, and YET there’s outrage over a spread in a magazine that clearly has a habit of using models of the Caucasian persuasion in their 12+ years of existence.

    I’m confused, what did a generation before us fight ‘segregation’ for? For our dignity?! or to sweat the petty, irrelevant stuff!!!!!

  45. LaTasha says:

    Wow. When I first saw this I went…not again. Clearly we “Africans” are beautiful people and Europeans can’t seem to get enough of our culture. Could racism really mean jealousy, envy and admiration? Clearly if another culture thought they were superior we wouldn’t see so much copying of african culture. We need to put our dollars where our mouths are and not support these designers or publications that seem to think blackface or discarding us period is ok. Europeans actually have a nice culture. Too bad they don’t think so enough to use it. Thanks for this article Claire.

  46. Real talk says:

    Ok so we created mankind but very few of us look good with blonde hair yet so many black entertainers have blonde hair and nasty ass weaves.. Bleach their skin and wear contacts. The black face / minstrel was insulting in the pass but must we always be victims. This is fashion, it’s an industry based on ludicrousness and frippery and creativity. What do we expect? I am more upset by black celebrities wearing expensive clothes when they could be giving some of that money to charity or Africa. Or buying cars and diamonds and other goods from people who don’t give a shit about our community but we don’t often buy from our own. We have got to the point where we are wasting energy on the wrong flicking things

  47. Real talk says:

    Until we start to respect ourselves, no one will respect us! Black American directors and media people don’t even put dark skinned women or black women with big noses and short hair in your music videos or your films. It’s always some light skin girl. Look at the celebrities you worship on here? Nearly every black male star has a light skin chick with straight features. Was there light skin in Africa before black women were raped by the white man? Nope very few do in effect slavery has made you think that light skin and long hair even if its not your own is better so before you start calling other people racist, look at yourselves.

  48. Real talk says:

    Ok so we created mankind but very few of us look good with blonde hair yet so many black entertainers have blonde hair and nasty ass weaves.. Bleach their skin and wear contacts. The black face / minstrel was insulting in the pass but must we always be victims. This is fashion, it’s an industry based on ludicrousness and frippery and creativity. What do we expect? I am more upset by black celebrities wearing expensive clothes when they could be giving some of that money to charity or Africa. Or buying cars and diamonds and other goods from people who don’t give a shit about our community but we don’t often buy from our own. We have got to the point where we are wasting energy on the wrong things

  49. Bella says:

    @Real talk. Agreed…but I’m glad dark skinned women are not in these dumb*ss music videos where they glorify strippers, baby mommas, b*tches and h*es. Definitely pass on that. We definitely need to not only respect ourselves but also DEMAND it as a whole. Overall, black men (even women really) in the media certainly don’t…an overwhelming amount. What about this bleaching epidemic? Just a couple of days ago in Giant I saw a ‘skin lightening cream’ in the African-American beauty products isle (you know that section). DISGUSTING.

  50. Jihan says:

    @D.A. I like your idea, but shouldn’t the title have something to do with being white?

    maybe ‘corn fed girl next door’, or put her in some lederhosen…

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