A popular Argentinian cosplayer found herself in the middle of a heated debate when she painted her skin brown to portray Vivienne, a character from the video game Dragon Age.

After Lilia Lemoine, who goes by the name LadyLemon, posted a “Black skin test” picture of herself painted brown as Vivienne, she was criticized for partaking in blackface. While many cosplayers said her makeup choice was no different from folks painting themselves blue or green to resemble non-human characters, others objected, citing the racist history of blackface around the globe.

Black skin make up test for Dragon Age Vivienne

A post shared by Lilia Lemoine (@lilialemoine) on

One Facebook user, Jessica Green, wrote, “Must be nice to be able to wash that skin color off at the end of the day so that you do not get racially profiled in stores like I have…or get discriminated against by government officials like I have…or get called racial slurs on/off the internet like I have.”

Another, Maya McGhee, commented, “ My skin color is not a costume.”

Initially, Lemoine said she didn’t understand what the problem was because she’d been made fun of for being “too white” as a child.

“I live in Argentina, and I got mocked as a child for being too white (they used to say that I took the colors of the walls… and that was sad for me as a kid),”she wrote on Facebook. “I’m sorry if this is offensive to you, I never meant to be offensive.”

However, Lemoine argued she had the right to pain her skin brown because it’s just a costume and she wanted it to be accurate.

“This is cosplay… the character is Black. Isn’t offensive if I do it white?!” she asked. “That would be disrespecting the character! Sorry, I can’t believe that you are abused in your own country for your skin color in the XXI century! That’s terrible!”

Despite her claim that dressing up as Vivienne would be “disrespectful,” several commenters chimed in to say otherwise. Many pointed out that cosplayers of color don’t paint themselves white when dressing up as white characters.

For instance:

One Black cosplayer, Harry Crossland, even shared an example of a non-Black woman dressed as Vivienne.


“Ladies and gents, this is how you cosplay this SAME costume without resorting to coloring your skin,” Crossland wrote.

Predictably, some chimed in with pictures of Black folks like the Wayans Brothers and Dave Chappelle dressed as white characters to show that Lemoine’s action weren’t wrong; however,  there is no historical record of people of color painting themselves white to systematically degrade and oppress white folks. The reverse can’t be said.

Once she was heavily criticized, Lemoine recorded a video saying she “hates” racism and doesn’t understand it. She also went on to say she doesn’t know anything about American history, and after researching blackface, she thinks her attempt to be Vivienne is very different because she “wasn’t making fun of Black people.”

Lemoine said she’s been bullied as a result of posting the picture, and “she’s sorry for the pain racist people can cause to Black people.”

While Lemoine’s ignorance and apology seem sincere, cosplayers of all races can sidestep such controversies if they avoid painting their skin to look like a human character.

So cosplayers, go crazy with the wigs, costumes, and accessories, but don’t paint your face to look like a character of a different race. Period.

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  • She knows what she was did was wrong. She used the tactic of deflection by saying that she was bullied because her skin complexion. That is a deflection since she knows fully that black people in Argentina have been heavily discriminated against. Many black people in that nation lack economic and job opportunities because of their skin color. Also, many black people globally are bullied for their dark skin color too. That is why we promote the Black is Beautiful movement as a way for us to tell the truth and make positive social change in the globe. Most people who live in Argentina are of European or partial-European descent. There is a long history of black people experiencing slavery and other forms of tyranny in the Americas for centuries. Her wearing blackface was blatantly offensive. Instead of her wanting to know about why her actions were wrong, she acted very defensive in trying to ignore the legitimate words of people who disagreed with her. It was great that her critics has shown example of other people dressing up as their favorite characters without using blackface.

  • vintage3000

    I do not blame her for jumping at the chance to darken her skin for a few hours; she truly is whiter than a fish’s belly. She looks like a haint in that first pic.

  • Valerie

    I’ve actually played this game and this is ridiculous. It’s actually one of my favorite games. If you cosplay you can get your costume across without painting your skin black. I’m not ok with this. Side note: The character doesn’t even remotely resemble what this lady was trying to portray so I feel that was a sneak diss as well. This is how Vivienne looks in the game: (sorry if the picture is too big)

  • It’s really disgusting how some americans impose their cultural issues on people from another country, it’s insultating, and EVEN speaks of our history based on wikipedia. And even gets offended as fuck for inner problems of your country. Instead of bashing someone else because YOU feel offedend based on YOUR history of racism, try to EXPLAIN, in a correct way, why YOU feel bad about, why in YOUR country it’s wrong and TEACH her to avoid this kind of cosplay if she TRAVELS to north america. She lives in Argentina, we have NO problems with black people, there is no racism or history of racism agains black people as the one north american have facing during several years (and remains till today), the genocide your wikipedia speaks about was against our native people, and the reason was territory. Period.
    Lilia lives on Buenos Aires Argentina, if you do a cosplay or change your skin color for a costume party NOONE will ever feel offended. She did her cosplay test on Buenos Aires, Argentina, she upload it to HER page, HER PAGE, where all of you visited because you wanted. Now, you CAN’T go to another place and try to impose YOUR CULTURE BECAUSE YOU FEEL OFFENDED. I feel offended by having all of you bashing us for trying to make you understand our culture, history it’s as importante as yours and she is free to do whatever she please on her page and country. Feel offedend if she travels your place, but don’t impose your problems.