DIDN’T THINK THEY’D TAKE IT THIS FAR

If you follow me on twitter or we're pals on facebook you may have noticed a link I posted in regards to the Black Face aesthetic popping up in fashion.  If you have no idea what I'm referring to please read this post that Vibe.com did about models in black face on Trya's show, V magazine and Vogue. I've been on the fence about writing this post because one of the positive and negative aspects of writing a blog post about about something is that it inherently draws more attention to the matter. The negative aspect as pointed out by Fly Girls blog writer Andrea is that by discussing this we must reference Vogue, W and Tyra, which increases their  traffic/content consumption therefore making them more money, so in a way it's like rewarding them for their efforts. The positive aspect of writing this post is that it opens up a forum to discuss what's REALLY the matter with painting white models Black. The following is my stance on the situation, socially I think we have a lot more to work through than we'd like to believe and I'd love to hear your thoughts. I like to consider myself a reletively open individual. I also believe that it's possibe to positively appropriate just about anything, but I think that this is far from a positive appropriation. There isn't enough visibility of 'non-white' people in main stream fashion for a 'black face' aesthetic to be used with out making a clear re-contextualized  situation. The spread in V magazine is only about one model being painted black and the other one not. They don't even have clothes on, so what does this mean? what's the vision. Without a context the only thing I can link it to is minstrel show. Perhaps I'm mis-reading the artistic vision, but I haven't really been given much to work with. If we are all so 'open' to appropriation, then next fashion spread should include a model dressed like Hitler and other models in an oven, or better yet white models made to look Chinese while working on building railroads, or while were at it, white models dressed like Pocahontas building tee pees. To me all of those would be just as ridiculous as this black face fashion thing. The fashion arena is not the first place with in the last few years that I've seen this happen. Are you familiar with Friends with You? Well they make these super cute plush toys (well most are super cute) and a few years back they did this one and a few others in the same vein. This bling clad stuffed animal was being sold for $500 and his name is foofee (pictured right). Does this not bare a resemblance to Plastic “Be-Bop Jigger” (pictured left). That is the actual listed name. This was sold in auction for $500. What's the difference between these two? 75 years or so?  America's mentality? I'm not quite sure their is a difference. 2166_1picture-21 The next point to bring up may be authorship. Is this aesthetic completely off limits or is like how many perceive the word 'nigger' only to be used by blacks. For example if Tyra self identifies as a black person than it's okay to put white models in black face? Or even T-pain's album cover? Maybe people think Obama being President made racist, historical, iconic, imagery not racist anymore...like he changed the past or something? I really don't know but it brings up lots of questions and prime time to work out some of these. I know we won't all be on the same page but I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

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2 Comments

  1. This Black Face thing in fashion as a trend is I think a kind of slap in the face to models of color. To paint white models at black instead of getting an actual model of color is kind of lazy. It would be one thing if there was a point to the whole thing like an article tied to it like a Trading Races/Places. I don’t see an actual point to it other than being controversial and getting attention.

    On the other hand maybe the point of it is to start a discussion about the limited number of models of color utilized for major shows, ad campaigns, etc.

  2. i agree with u brett. however, i don’t think it is because they are lazy. i think it’s a very CLEAR disregard towards black people in general. they don’t care about us modeling; they just sprinkle us here + there to shut us up. they don’t market to black consumers, but of course they are happy that we spend our last dimes on their goods. i am soooo tired of this conversation, of trying to get them to accept us. that is why i think it is VERY IMPORTANT that we represent for OURSELVES; create our OWN movement + not be afraid to hire black models for our ad campaigns. we gotta define ourselves TO ourselves + not wait for the fashion industry to do it for us. black models r DOPE! and heck, if people don’t buy my product because i ONLY show black/latino women, then i have to ask myself, do i really want them as customers anyway?

    p.s.: bring suede mag back!!!

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