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Posts tagged ‘Illmasqua blackface ad’

Illmasqua Blackface Ad

29 November 2012, 16.28 | Posted in advertisement | 6 comments »

IllamasquaBlackface 540x304 Illmasqua Blackface Ad

The ad here by British cosmetics company Illmasqua is being described as racist, in that it features a model in blackface, which has been used in performance to create a stereotyped charicature of a black person. The tophat and bowtie further support the typical look of a blackface costume. Despite a barrage of criticism the company as of yesterday continued to defend the ad (though interestingly the blackface side is not longer on its Facebook page), and made the following statement:

We thank and acknowledge your comments regarding the above image. Obviously it was never our intention to cause offence; Illamasqua has always celebrated the right to self-expression and we continually push creative and artistic boundaries, priding ourselves on working with models of many ethnic backgrounds to reinforce this point.

In covering this industry over the years it’s been my observation that people/companies often react defensively to accusations of racist behavior–which is understandable, it’s a very heavy charge to bear, no one wants to be the uncool racist guy or gal. When pointed at they respond with statements like, oh, I don’t see people based on their color or no harm was meant or this is art. But systemic racism is much bigger, more subtle and ultimately more damaging than over the top hate speech. Big picture it’s about supporting and helping to maintain a system of power, aka white supremecy.

You see tribute to the system reflected on runways, in editorials, ads and in disdain for streetwear that gets turned on its head when the same looks are shown on a runway. The vitriolic response to Kanye West’s showing in Paris was in part based in racism. And of course it’s shown in power at the top, who runs the most monied fashion companies and then too, those in charge of the most storied–Europe’s Haute Couture houses.

At this point in history, waving racism away because it wasn’t intended is a feeble excuse, especially for well educated and cultured fashion industry bigwigs, who like to pride themselves for their progressive view points. We all make mistake and stumble, life is a learning process, but in general this industry could do a lot better.