Saturday, August 9, 2008

Light Skin Wins Again

Beyonce's latest L'Oreal advertisment has really struck a chord with the light-skinned/dark-skinned black divide. We all know celebrities get photoshopped, but putting my sentiments about that aside, I agree that "white washing" Beyonce is going way too far.

I remember for a short time people had issues with Angelina Jolie being "ethnicized" for some movie role. That was controversial, but this is beyond controversial to me. This is just embittering:


Anyone who saw the Féria hair color ad in this month's Elle (pictured, left) might have had to do a double-take to make sure it was really Beyoncé, and not the long-lost twin of the light-skinned model on the product's box. Today, in a NY Post report cheekily headlined "O, RÉALLY?," L'Oréal reps deny altering the singer's features and skin tone. The chairman of the media-monitoring committee of the National Association of Black Journalists even chimed in, arguing that "magazines have to be sensitive to perceptions that light-skinned African Americans are more acceptable."

By now, most of us are used to pretty much all commercial images of celebrities getting the Photoshopped-into-oblivion treatment. But shouldn't there be some sort of line here? We don't know exactly what or who is responsible -- severe makeup? odd lighting? digital alteration? too much time indoors? -- for making Beyoncé practically unrecognizable. Whatever the culprit, whitewashing a well-known face in the interest of selling hair color (that is wrong for 'yoncers anyway) takes the "anything for a great shot" argument a little too far.

What do you think -- does the ad offend you, or is this sort of "optimized" commercial image safe in the plasticine land of Fictionarnia we've all come to generally accept at this point, and therefore unworthy of a second thought?

It's possible that Beyonce comes out lighter if you use flash when taking a picture. But come on, this is an advertisement for L'Oreal...they're not stupid, they know exactly what they were doing and they need to fess up.

My one question is, did Beyonce get a say in the use of this final picture? I wouldn't necessarily give her the benefit of the doubt in all this. I mean, she's a huge celebrity, I can't imagine that she'd allow them to publish the photo without her final approval...but what do I know.

1 comment:

  1. I know how you feel. They also make Indian model "Aishwarya Rai" look so WHITE in these ads that we can barely recognize her.
    Like THIS -->

    is not her skin color. We should compile a list of these, ha!

    By the way, great blog. I am one of the editors at The Sanctuary and also live in the Bay Area.

    Link back if you like mine. Cheers.