What Blackface Is NOT: Lie Sang Bond’s Paris Fashion Week Face Paint Controversy
Korean fashion designer, Lie Sang Bond brought some controversy to Paris Fashion Week when he painted the faces of White models with black paint during a presentation of his Fall 2012 Collection. Due to the sensitivity of the matter, a few people are very offended while some question why the designer didn’t just employ Black models.
As with 2011’s controversial “blackface” photos of Beyoncé for L’Officiel Paris, I give this the serious side-eye. As an artist, the effect Bond was trying to convey comes across beautifully. And as a woman of color, I find it difficult to be remotely offended by White models with odd-shaped black circles painted on their faces for fashion shoots or a runway shows, both of which use models as mere art canvases.
You know what’s offensive?
On my list of offensive racist bullshit, the murder of a Black Florida teen by a White adult male being dismissed by a United States police department is #1. White fashion models with black circles on their faces, doesn’t rank in the list at all.
A Georgia lawmaker wants women to carry their stillborn fetuses full-term… offensive! Black teen girls are told by their White male peers that they’d never date a “hideous” Black girl… o-damn-ffensive. This past Winter, Dutch Magazine Jackie referred to Bajan pop singer Rihanna as a Jamaican nigger-bitch, for which, they apologized and then took it back. But I’m supposed to be upset over paint?
What is Blackface?
And then I’m reminded, people have no idea what blackface is, nor the characteristics of the practice so I’ll repeat it: “REAL blackface was vicious and degrading in every execution. Real blackface depicted Blacks as ignorantly happy, lazy, and musical.”
Is that what you see when you see these allegedly offensive depictions of blackface? Were you fearful of how non-Blacks would view all Blacks based on the “blackface” photos of Beyoncé? Were they a shameful representation of Blackness or the Black diaspora, to which Beyoncé actually belongs?
A modern minstrel show must include characters that depict Blacks as buffoonish and dimwitted… now what would qualify as such? Only 94% of the reality televisions shows that have any Black women casted, e.g. Basketball Wives, Housewives of Atlanta, Flavor of Love, Bad Girls Club–granted, these shows make all other groups of women look like idiots as well.
Viewers around the world are convinced that all Black women act just like Atlanta housewife and loudmouth NeNe Leakes based on these shows, a sentiment echoed by actor Brian White who feels bad examples are being set.
As for “blackface,” without meeting certain criteria, all you have is White people playing with paint. Stop abusing the term for the sake of creating buzz. Your ignorance is showing.