A white model in blackface? In 2013? As Youtube sensation Sweet Brown would so eloquently say: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” The offender is Numéro, a French glossy that has a fashion spread in its March issue titled “African Queen” featuring 16-year-old white model Ordin Hardin.
Days after the photos spread on the Internet, the magazine offered an apology via Facebook saying the photos are “the artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim” and are “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.”
The statement added that Black model Fernando Cabral will be on the cover of the March issue of Numéro Man issue and the magazine’s Russian edition currently features Naomi Campbell on the cover.
But some fashion insiders aren’t buying the apology. “Our hopes aren’t completely lifted that anything will change concerning the glaring diversity issues within the fashion industry since the apology only intends to quell hurt feelings, rather than denouncing the practice of such racial exploitation,” writes Huffington Post fashion editor Julee Wilson. And ESSENCE’s Vanessa K. Bush weighed in on the controversy on Good Morning America, noting what a sensitive thing blackface is for our community.
In a statement to HuffPo, photographer Sebastian Kim says the shoot was never meant to portray a Black woman. “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,” he writes. “We at no point attempted to portray an African woman by painting her skin black.” He also told ABC News in a statement that the “African Queen” headline was “unfortunate” and not his idea but the editors’.
This comes days after satirical newspaper The Onion posted an apology to Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis on Facebook following their now infamous tweet calling the 9-year-old a c*nt.
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