• White Model Ondria Hardin Poses in Numéro’s African Queen Editorial: What is Fashion’s Obsession with Blackface?

    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.

    Claire

    Claire Sulmers is the publisher and founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, the #43 most influential style magazine in the world.

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