Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Black or Blackface?

I was skating around the blogosphere (that is such a funny, new word to me) this morning and came across this picture on Racialicious:

Apparently the image is part of an article in I-D magazine about American Apparel and also appears on American Apparel's website.

There are plenty of comments on American Apparel's site, and oddly there seems to be a disconnect amongst the comments. Some people assume that this image depicts a very dark-skinned black woman. To others it is obvious that this is a white woman in dark make-up. The article doesn't seem to indicate what we're seeing beyond American Apparel clothing - including leggings fashioned into a headdress.

So, what do you see? And what do you think of it?

1 comment:

Nina said...

That's a tough one. I'm pretty sure what we're looking at is a touched-up or enhanced photo. This is an ad for kids clothing. So I have a few things I could see:

A model older than the age group for whom the product is meant;

A photo in which the "girl's" breasts were enhanced;

Along those lines, any aspect of the model's body could be enhanced to give her the appearance of having "African" heritage. Quotes are because I see this photo as exaggerated and creating an illusion. I think the photo looks as though they wanted to dress up a model in a way some people think of as native African, with very dark skin and hair wrapped in fabric. Actually, to me it looks as though they went to some trouble trying to make this impression, right down to the weary facial expression and tired eyes.

I have to say that the sentence printed across the model's chest is confusing. I haven't found the article yet--does it explain this?

So, combining my impression of their visual goal with the weird expression typed across her chest, I find it really really tasteless.