French Vogue's Blackface Shoot Isn't Hip or Edgy--It's Tasteless

Its publicity stunt snubs models of color.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

This is not funny, nor is it edgy or hip or "outrageous" in the positive sense as its producers most likely intended it to be. French Vogue has a 14-page fashion shoot in its October issue sporting a white model in blackface.

To be excessively fair, French Vogue is known for going over the top in a mad grab for (I would assume) publicity and readership. Recent issues have included spreads modeled by cross-dressers and faux-pregnant women smoking cigarettes. Outrageousness for outrageousness's sake.

The print medium is on the decline, we all know that. And perhaps the editors figured desperate times call for desperate measures. But the editors may have generated a bit more self-protective armor if they had not missed the fact that the rest of the October issue is completely devoid of models of color (that, according to a jezebel.com commentator on CNN this afternoon).

I'm not one to go overboard on political correctness. But I'm especially troubled by French Vogue's publicity stunt in view of the fact there seems to be a lack of opportunity for black models in the fashion industry. That same Jezebel commentator told CNN European that models of African descent are routinely turned away from jobs and told such things as, "no black girls today."

I hope we're beyond that here in the United States. Our media overall have made great advances in gender and racial diversity during the past two decades. But we are a much more homogenous society than exists in France. And we are certainly far from having gotten it right as of yet.

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