Ad Tedium

Representations and performances of casual racism on fashion runways and fashion magazines are now so commonplace that when I see them, I feel more weary than angry. (Same goes for their accompanying lines of defense – creative freedom, cutting edge, avant-gardism, blah blah blah).

But while editorials like this one in the recent issue of Numero are no longer surprising and while I’m racing to meet multiple deadlines in an ever-growing to-do list which requires me to do a quick time-cost and benefits analysis before posting anything, I did want to share this with you. The inclusion of the baby standing in front of Constance Jablonski (in blackface) and her empty carriage ratchets up the creep factor of this ad for me.

For a more thoughtful analysis of this editorial as well as additional images, see Styleite. For Threadbared commentary, see our growing number of posts dedicated to the fucked-upness and tiredness of casual racism, filed under the categories Fashioning Race and Fashioning the Human.

Here’s Jablonski without the blackface makeup:



11 responses to “Ad Tedium

  1. WHEN did blackface become remotely acceptable, under any guise? Have I been in a coma?

    What’s this ad for anyway?

  2. RMJ

    That is totally gross. @Sally, it seems like it was never exactly taboo in fashion

  3. Heath

    Oh, too bad there just weren’t any actual black models they could have hired for this editorial. Jeez, to what lengths will they go to make sure that the face of beauty remains lily-white? (Except, of course, when it’s in blackface.)


  4. there’s a really bizarre confluence of afro-futurism and southern gothic in this image, but the blackface performance you note is not as evident to me. Why they put a white model in an afro and bronzed the hell out of her face instead of merely recruiting a black model is certainly curious, but *I* understand blackface to be a style of performance that grossly exaggerates the lips, eyes, and body of the wearer in an effort to amuse white audiences at the expense of black people. When every instance of so-called ‘black performance’ becomes blackface, then the sting of truly racist performance is diffused. Wil.I.Am’s performance at the VMAs this year posed a similar problematic.

    I think the real problem with this ad is that it at once cannibalizes the parts of blackness that it likes (i.e., kinky hair, chocolate brown skin, and a particular style of dress) while expunging those it finds distasteful (i.e., presumably the bodies and faces of actual black women). Unfortunately this is standard operating procedure in the world of high fashion.

  5. Image making is a form of power which is why it is important to create your/my own – which is to also say that not one image fits all.

  6. One word: Why?
    Sometimes I really hate the fashion world.

  7. The thing is there are no black models available so they had to “unwillingly” use a white model….so sad.

  8. modeetutopie

    I just emailed you about this. @gina/huzzah – Absolutely agree and love the comment!

  9. OMG this makes me so mad!!!! it just proves that the world has really not gotten over its racism if things like this can still be printed and be ok.


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