Why are magazines still using blackface?

Countless editorials have come under fire for reenacting the racist and archaic practice yet magazines continue to implement it.

The latest offender is Vogue Netherlands Magazine for its “Heritage Heroes,” editorial in the May 2013 issue. The shoot pays homage to Marc Jacob’s designs for Louis Vuitton with each look capturing the inspiration behind one of his collections.

To tribute his Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 collections, inspired by Josephine Baker and Grace Jones respectively, white model Querelle Jansen is featured in blackface with wigs to resemble textured hair. Was this the best way to channel these African-American legends?

According to Fashionista, “a caption from the editorial translates to “This collection is inspired by the style of the Parisian showgirl Josephine Baker, mixed with tribal influences.”

Sure it would’ve been easier to hire a black model for those shots, but why go through the trouble when you can dress a white model as a caricature of two African-American cultural icons? Insert sarcasm.

It’s hard to tell whether Vogue Netherlands ‘s blackface shoot was motivated by a need for attention or plain old ignorance. Blackface is almost commonplace in Dutch culture as they are known for their highly-offensive “Black Pete” tradition which continues to this day.

What will it take for publications to stop using blackface altogether? What are your thoughts, Clutchettes and Gents?


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