Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Illamasqua Christmas Campaign Controversy

I just received an e-mail from Illamasqua regarding their ad from the Christmas campaign:
''As of the day before yesterday, we have been receiving lots of negative attention in regard to one particular image. It features the same model theatrically painted white, and painted black. The woman painted in black has been interpreted by lots of people as "blackface" which was not at all our intention or inspiration! A debate has emerged on social media channels and seems to be escalating across certain blogs and websites. 

On one side of the argument are those who feel that this is racist and want us to remove the imagery. Then, there are those who see this merely as an artistic expression with no reference to race.  

Given that our objective with this imagery was to be playful, striking and fresh with the creation of mirror images in white and black, using colour ON the skin it is very saddening that those making negative comments are focusing on colour OF the skin.  Frankly, colour of the skin didn’t even come into it at the time we created the imagery so we are absolutely shocked by the cynicism behind some of the comments.''

Here's the image that started the whole thing:
Illamasqua Dreaming Of...

First of all, let me tell you I didn't even know about this until I got the message from Illamasqua. That's one of the reasons I'll keep this as short as possible. I don't want it to snowball out of proportions. I just want to say what I think of the whole controversy around it. 

When I first got the photos from the Christmas campaign, I though they weren't as special as some of the previous collections (make up wise), but I liked the idea of the contrast: ''dreaming of white Christmas'' VS coloring up your life. That's what Illamasqua is all about. They've been like this from the start. And I think if someone got offended now, they never got them in the first place. I never took this ad as offensive, but I know some people are really sensitive when it comes to skin color. I think every skin color and tone is beautiful. Why should it be offensive? Colors are beautiful. I love skin tones. I love it from pale Dita von Teese to ebony goddess Grace Jones. And everything in between. Every skin tone is beautiful when a person wearing it is comfortable in it. But this isn't even about skin tone. This is art. And for all of those who were upset by it: were you only upset by the left part of the image, or by the right part of it too? I'm caucasian and I'm not ghostly white. Should I be offended by the add too?

Illamasqua, you have my full support. I don't think you did anything wrong here.

I know our opinions may vary. I want to know what YOU think about this image. Did you find it insulting or offending in any way? 

Thanks for looking and commenting!

103 comments:

  1. To be honest it wouldnt even have crossed my mind :)

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  2. I am unfortunately going to stop following your blog now after you wrote that extremely insensitive piece. Whether their intention or not was to hurt people, people have been hurt by the campaign. Illamasqua should apologize for causing that pain, intended or not. Also by the way criticizing others for being too sensitive, or not "getting" what Illamasqua was trying to say, is just disgusting.

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    1. Maybe that's the best thing for you to do. You say people have been hurt. I think this would have been a problem right after the images came out then. Why did it take a month for the images to get offensive. I'll never know.

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    2. Wow! When I started reading this comment I actually thought it was going to be sarcastic lol Why would anyone be HURT by face paint and why would you stop following her for saying what she did?? Grow some back bone and worry about real problems, seriously. True modern day problems... face paint.

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  3. I think this is offensive. There are a way to go "black" without touching blackface. A simple google of the word blackface gives you a LOT of similarities with this photo that Illamasqua did. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface for example. Black people have been caricatured into having huge pink lips and dark skin so many times and that is what Illamasqua did with this campaign. I think they could have been a lot more sensitive and aware, instead of releasing an EMAIL (instead of posting it publicly) that sounds like a whole bunch of backtracking to me.

    Nihrida, you are right that colors/every shade of skin is beautiful. Why can't we have people appropriately represent their race than put a white person in black? I think that's where it starts to be offensive. I think if we had a black person and a white person, this MAY have gone in a different direction (it will still be problematic, but not as bad as this ad campaign).

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  4. Also one more thing, putting her into blackface is once again creating a comparison where the color black is cast as dark, negative, and the white as pure, positive. I know Illamasqua has done some really edgy shit, and they have done really great stuff but this one, yeah I would say they bombed it.

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    1. I see it differently: white and black are not actually colors (from the color wheel). They represent light and the absence of light. Illamasqua is all about colors, and that's why the lips are in bold colors. In my interpretation it's not even slightly about skin color. But I see where you're coming from. I didn't look at it like that for one second. And neither do I now.

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  5. To be honest, I was at a loss when I first saw the picture: where is the controversy there?! Oh well, I figure some people tend to see too much where there isn't a thing, just as some others tend to overlook things as easily as that. For me, there is no racism there, but pure and simple artistic expression. And I'm Brazilian with a very diverse background, being neither what one may call "white" nor "black" (or whatever people wanna say is polite naming a skin tones). Anyway, it's a pity that people want to be offended by something that wasn't designed with that purpose, but exactly the contrary, when I bet they wouldn't be willing to put up a fight for more serious (and prejudicial!) matters. That's just my opinion, though...

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    1. Exactly my thought. Maybe people do think it's polite to be offended by it? I don't know. Really.

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  6. It reminds me of the makeup used in minstrel shows and that's not a good thing.

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  7. Same here, it never crossed my mind and I thought it was just a contrast.

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  8. I totally agree! Illamasqua has my support too. I saw this as a mirror reflection of a artistic makeup look inspired by Christmas. nothing special! so sad this happened, though. turns out people are still not ready for skin color diversities in the world...

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    1. Sadly I think your last sentence is true. :/

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  9. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I do think the "mirror image" argument falls apart when one looks at the pinks and reds used on the lips and cheeks on both looks. If white and black are "opposites" and it's about "color ON the skin" shouldn't they have used greens and blues to represent a true color reverse? I do think if they'd gone this route; presenting a "photo negative" rather than what does look like black face makeup, not only would it represent their stated intention more fully it wouldn't have caused offense.

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  10. I also was dumbfounded when I saw the ad and wondered what the controversy is about.. To me it's a mirror image in light/no light. Funny thing is, if they used an actual black girl and painted her white in the exactly same campaign, that too would have stirred up controversy for trying to make a black person white... I really wish people set their prejudices of skin color aside and really looked at what Illamasqua tried to accomplish here.

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  11. A wise man (and a psychologist) once said, "You cannot love or hate something about another person unless you love or hate that same thing about yourself." I did not find it offensive, only thought provoking as are most Illamasqua images. Art is often controversial, isn't it?

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  12. I get the whole concept, but I think it was executed very poorly. It really does resemble very strongly the makeup 'style' used not that long ago to mock and ridicule black people, and to perpetuate racial stereotypes and racism in general. I can understand that this is still a sensitive issue for many people, and Illamasqua should definitely appreciate that (as should any other company as well).
    I am not personally offended by this ad (as I am caucasian), but I do find it extremely distasteful. An for heaven's sake, that pompous act is really annoying. You don't have to be a genius to 'get it'. There's nothing to 'get'. It's not art. It's just make-up. And a lousy ad campaign.

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  13. The left side of the image bears a very disturbing resemblance to the makeup used in minstrelsy. Had "whiteface" been a thing, with such an awful history tied to it, I would take offense to it too, but because that history is not there, it is the left side that I find repulsive.

    The offense isn't about being unprepared for diversity, it's about willfully ignoring symbols and motifs that have a prejudiced history. That said, I frankly think that this ad campaign was for the purpose of getting attention, not for "art".

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    1. Double this. Especially because the white image has the model with bright red lipstick, normal sized for her lips. The black image has very light colored lips, and they are painted on bigger than her natural lip! I find it hard to believe the makeup artist who did this WASN'T using blackface as inspiration! The similarities are too striking.

      Maybe this same campaign (white/black juxtaposition) COULD have been done without being offensive, but it's like they TRIED to mimic blackface with it!

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. Ok, this post really caught me by surprise. I saw the image when it came out and loved the idea of the contrast. That is the only thing I got from this picture: the beauty of contrast. I have absolutely no idea why everything needs to get political. Why oh why would Illamasqua want to get political when it has always been about pushing the frames of *make up art*? I actually think it would be political if they made the dark part of it with a black person. The point of it, for me, is, that the girl has the bright and dark side inside her, it's all her, her alter ego.

    Frankly, it saddens me that people see dicriminatory tendencies on every corner. We as a society have become insanely sensitive, every sentence, every picture, every show and every move has to come with a disclaimer. That is how I sometimes feel.
    Not taking it as it is - in Illamasqua case a very good piece of make up art and interpretation of their slogan about alter ego we all have inside - but dissecting it into something political, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with it. It is tiresome and unnecessary. The artist who created this in an contrasting interpretation of dreaming of white christmas, while you play with your alter ego that perhaps would like something 'darker' (figuratively speeking, naturally) now needs to explain themselves for it and deal with accusation of racial discrimination. I mean ... wow.

    Just love (or hate) the art, people. That is what it's all about.

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  16. What an ignorant defense of this company and its campaign. I take great pleasure in deleting this tacky blog from my RSS feed.

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  17. Didn't even know this campaign existed either. I think the people to jump to these 'racist' conclusions are the ones who actually have a problem.
    Like you said, Caucasians who, like many of us I guess, are not ghostly white could then feel offended too. C'mon, people, there are other things in life to worry about!!

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  18. I have to admit that I found this comment of yours somewhat sad and insensitive: "I'm caucasian and I'm not ghostly white. Should I be offended by the add too?"

    Anyway. I hadn't seen the ad before this post, and my first thought was: "well, that's unfortunate." I guess I can see Illamasqua's artistic intentions behind the ad, but I find it offensive. And I think Kewt-ified made some really good points in her comments.

    But I'm really glad you posted about this. I'm not sure I would have read about it otherwise.

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  19. In all honesty the western tradition has a very long and storied history associated with both racism and blackface.

    Perhaps those who "don't see it" or "just see a contrast" are unaware of how actually offensive this kind of advertising really is.

    It's not, as Voodoo Blonde says above merely "people...not ready for skin color diversities", but a white model clearly in blackface.

    The term "slave" comes, for example, from the Byzantine Empire's use of Slavic captives as labor, so it's not just color. Never mind that Slavery itself merrily went along because people firmly believed that a differing phenotype meant that a person of another shade was actually a lower life form, a lesser human. Even today there are people who think that the color of one's skin is a matter of considering someone's merit. Preposterous.
    It is also very important to realize that in the US we STILL have a gigantic backlash against an African American president.

    In the light of evolutionary/genetic research it's good to know that we all most likely came out of Africa, but in truth there are still those who espouse hatred. I don't think at all that this applies to Illamasqua, but putting up old imagery and pretending it's something new is pretty silly.

    Blackface is a terrible legacy, practiced well into the 20th century.

    You know, also, it wouldn't hurt to realize that globally, especially in they heyday of UK's Empire days, they messed with indigenous populations in ways that really were despicable. Since Illamasqua is UK based, that at the very least should be contemplated.

    History isn't destiny, but it's completely unwise to discard it as some sort of post modern neanderthal and pretend context isn't of the slightest importance.

    Illamasqua made a mistake. Own it.

    Ironic that they support anti-hate crime for being different and then put a model in blackface for their ad campaign.

    I wonder why they did something that shortsighted?

    Talk about Ad Agency Fail.

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  20. Sorry, have to unfollow you at this point. It's not a 'mirror image' if the black image has huge over drawn pink lips. It's black face, pure and simple. And I am not here for that.

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  21. I agree with Kewt... The issue isn't about "oh you made someone look black who was white" or anything like that. The issue is specifically that black people were mocked by white people via blackface. If white people were mocked by being depicted as ghostly white, then your comparison about you being offended as a Caucasian would be valid. This isn't about today, this is about years and years of mockery and abuse, which blackface was just one of many forms of. Maybe someday, if and when racism is a bygone thing, people will find these references less offensive, but for now, I can understand being upset by treating such an issue with disregard

    Having said that, I really doubt Illamasqua's intent was to be offensive or create blackface. I do think they were just creating an artistic contrast. But their work does not exist in a vacuum and one can't just ignore inconvenient history.

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  22. I suppose this should explain it: http://jezebel.com/illamasqua-blackface/

    Casting those who were offended by it as the racists is the biggest joke of all. Educate yourself about racism before you talk about it.
    This blog is unfollowed.

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  23. I really think that the only detail that would make you think of a "blackface" (which i had to google because that's not something you hear of in latin america) is the pink lipstick on the black painted model. Nothing else because also this models are pure white and black, nobody has THAT skin color so it's for the sake of a simple looking but contrasting piece of art. Personally i think that the ad is actually very pretty and an amazing publicity if people is talking about it.

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  24. When I first saw it, I did have a gut reaction of-"Yikes! That reminds me of a lot of the old nasty black-face pictures" (I'm caucasian)...but then I looked closer and the same make-up "type" seems to be used in both. Both sets of lips are outlined past the edges a bit, both have blush and both are very lovely ladies. Instead of instantly seeing the negative, maybe open up our hearts a bit and stop looking for hints of racism in everything.

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  25. "And for all of those who were upset by it: were you only upset by the left part of the image, or by the right part of it too? I'm caucasian and I'm not ghostly white. Should I be offended by the add too?"

    This is a completely ignorant statement. Painting a face entirely white does not have anywhere near the same connotations as painting a face entirely black does. There is no history of oppression related to whiteface as there is with blackface.

    I really suggest you read this, and at least TRY to understand why people are offended: http://racismschool.tumblr.com/post/18422652908/black-face-vs-white-face-whats-the-difference

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  26. "...turns out people are still not ready for skin color diversities in the world..."

    So are you trying to imply that painting this white models skin black is trying to represent someone of a different race/skin tone? That is exactly why people are finding an issue with this ad and why many consider it black face. Painting a Caucasian model black has zilch to do with racial diversity. It actually impedes the progress.

    As for you... I am never following this blog again. I have posted the link to this on my website. Maybe you'll get the hits you're desperate for.

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  27. I can understand why people thought it was racist. Once upon a time here in the United States, African American were portrayed by "white" people with painted black faces (black) red lips (just like in the illamasqua ad) as a way of them to "look" like monkeys. Back in the days early 1820s-30s.African Americans were referred to as "monkeys or "coons". Here are some links so you can see it for yourself.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface
    Stereotypes embodied in the stock characters of blackface minstrels not only played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide, but also in popularizing black culture


    Now, Do I think Illamasqua was being insensitive?? No. But then Europe did not have the negative African history like we have (by negative I meant how we had Africans as slaves,how we abused them...). So what is art to others, it is "racist" or "insensitive" to others.
    IF I had a way to communicate and advice to Illamasqua, this is what I would say to them.

    "Keep the ad, however; make another ad explaining the love of diversity. Explain that eventhough our countries (Europe, North American, South American, Middle East, etc) has had a share of troubling pasts, that it is because of love, acceptance and diversity that we have triumphed over time. That we are not going to allow our past to dictate our future, but rather show that by knowing the past WE CAN HAVE a better, brighter future. That we are not going to allow skin color dictate our limitations. Instead, our skin color will be a canvas to show the world EVERYONE can be beautiful and everyone regardless of skincolor can climb the highest mountain should they desire to do so". Then (my advice) would be to have young girls (between the ages of 15-18) of all nationalities holding hands, smiling telling the world "We are all beautiful and so Are YOU!!!!".

    but that's my 2 cents on it.



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  28. I know Illamasqua said that the images have been out for a month but I've been an email subscriber of theirs and hadn't seen it until I saw someone else mention it. I also think that the fact that people didn't say anything for some time doesn't mean that what people are saying should automatically dismissed

    The thing is that in American culture, blackface has a terrible history where white persons made themselves up in exaggerated black face paint with light pink overdrawn lips, a specific type of blackface included the "dandy" type where it featured the blackface paint with a suit and top hats. Can you honestly blame anyone for seeing that and thinking blackface? The choice to color the lips like that with the outfit and makeup, considering how it was such a huge part of American history, albeit forgotten to some, still creates bad reactions

    And Even then, there was still instances of blackface in the UK. I'm very disappointed in how illamasqua are being extremely critical and dismissive of what people are saying. I don't think anyone at Illamasqua intended this to be this way and many people have said they have a problem with the ad itself, not the company but they are creating a problem by responding to the issue this way.

    I also think that just because this is artistic, doesn't mean that it is excluded from any criticism because of that

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  29. At first I thought there was nothing wrong with this image. But then I looked up "blackface" on Wikipedia...Hmm I think I get this fuss. If the black model's lips were the same as white one's it would be ok. But this coloured skin and exaggerated lips really remind the picture given as the example of that word. Obviously, it had been a painful part of American history and no wonder people got offended.
    They could just make lips of both models red, would have been much better

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  30. I don't get what the fuss is about. The ad doesn't offend me.

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  31. I don't think I would've found it offensive. There are so many sexist ads out there that people don't even think twice about but they jump on this one the first chance they get. Come on people! If it had been another company maybe but Illamasqua seem to be a bit different so I wouldn't think they wanted to make a racist ad.

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  32. As it is, there was no systemic history of African Americans (specifying America specifically) putting on white makeup to parody Caucasians. Racism against white people doesn't exist in the US.

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    1. I agree with your first sentence but definitely not with the second!! Racism against whites in the US is just as bad as the other way around!! Sadly :((

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    2. Racism against whites exists in Japan, let me tell ya!

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  33. I am very pale and I do not feel offended by the picture on the right side, so I do not understand why someone should feel offended by the picture on the left side. It is also the same model on both pictures painted black and white with make up and therefore the picture has no relation to skin color or races. I see it just as a pretty piece of art. It's very sad that some people still think in certain categories :-(

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  34. First of all I like the picture. I am not offended by it and don't understand people who are. We all have a different point of view because everyone has different experiences. I had to google "blackface" and "minstel shows" to know what it is. Well now I know and think it is a pity people still relate to this. It was a long time ago (according to Wikipedia). That was a different setting, time and world. I wish everyone to be able to cope with it and let the past behind.

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  35. While I think that what you wrote is insensitive, people must also understand that you as Slovenian don't have the same experiences and knowledge of racism.

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  36. I think a lot of people need to go google and research the term 'Blackface' and the history behind it.
    This is not about the model being black or looking black, obviously you are not offended that the other model is white if you are white, you just don't get what the controversy is about. There is no history or stigma of 'whiteface' so your argument is invalid.
    Please do some research before putting your two cents worth in.

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  37. Watch this controversy that happened in Australia a couple of years ago on a tv show called Hey Hey It's Saturday.
    It's the perfect example of what has happened in this ad campaign, the main reason being that Australians don't have a great knowledge about the history of blackface and what it means in the United States
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0qi5sJRywY

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  38. Greetings from Finland! From the point of view of an European - and from a country which was the exploited colony of Sweden for hundreds of years - I just have to thank all the advocates of extreme political correctness for all the laughter you give us Europeans. Do you have any idea how silly it seems that individual people try to force their own interpretation of the ad-campaign on others, on others from all over the globe? It's kind of like ideological colonialism in my opinion, forcing others to their frame of refefence. And it's not just silly actually, but definitely unintelligent and not very sensitive to other people. Just one question: Outside the USA the blackface makeup is something one needs to google about to find out what it means, especially the younger generation. What gives these hypersensitive advocates of political correctness from the USA the right to force their views - and their own personal interpretation of this campaign - on all the people from countries where there has been no slavery or no history of blackface makeup? That is not very politically correct... =)

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    1. By the comments I got, I got the feeling most of the people who were offened by this ad are from the US. I think it wouldn't have come to this if Illamasqa was a brand from the USA. Maybe that's why most of the Europeans look at it differently. I can certainly understand why they were offended now, but I still don't see it as a minstrel make up. It resembles the ''blackface'', but I doubt they were even thinking about it at the time. It's funny how they're so politically correct, but they immediately attacked me for having my own opinion. You don't see it as offensive image - you're a racist. That's sad. I'm gonna go listen to the Rammstein now. Thank you for your wonderful comment!

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    2. Oh believe me people would definitely still have bitched about it if it were an American company. If anything it probably wouldn't have even made it off the drawing table because they would expect just this kind of backlash. Sadly. Even if no one means something offensive, we all walk on eggshells to avoid having the racecard thrown at us. Just my opinion living in the US.

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    3. As a fellow European (Danish), I have to say that I don't agree with this at all. Maybe I'm confused, but we certainly (and sadly) have plenty of racism in Denmark, and I think a lot of other European countries do, too. I don't think people/Americans are trying to impose their own values on us here (although I do think that the US as a nation does this a little too much in general). I think the history of racism is something that everyone could benefit from being educated about, because it is still a problem today.

      I don't think you're racist if you're not offended by this image. But I also think it's very sad to say that they people who were offended were being polite, as Nihrida said earlier. Illamasqua may not have been trying to offend, but they did.

      And Anonymous from Finland, I think you've managed to make some sweeping generalizations in your comment that really make you look insensitive and narrow-minded. Please don't assume all Europeans are like you. I'm grateful I'm not.

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    4. I am from Europe and I also find this offensive. And I didn't have to google blackface or minstrel shows to know what they were. Just because you've never heard of something doesn't mean nobody else has. Today we have such a variety of authors and books and textbooks, we have history channels and numerous documentaries, we speak foreign languages, we have access to media from all over the world... We have every mean necessary to be knowledgeable. So don't take pride in your ignorance.

      And nobody is imposing their interpretations of this campaign on anyone. "We" are simply saying that there is a strong and significant socio-political context to this specific kind of make-up which carries certain racist implications. Racism is still a huge issue, not only in the US, but in other parts of the world as well, and it's doesn't affect only African-Americans but other people too, so people are rightfully sensitive about it. Companies like Illamasqua should take that into consideration. After all, we're talking about their potential customers who will eventually choose (not) to purchase their products. Of course they didn't mean to be offensive. But they were. They should own up and apologize.

      Also, Nihrida, I don't think anyone is criticizing you personally or your opinion, yet alone attacking you for it. What I myself find disappointing is that you took a very strong stand on the issue without any (or very little) knowledge or regard to why this even is an issue. You were very quick to dismiss anyone's negative feelings towards this campaign, proclaiming those offended incapable to understand or 'get' this oh-so-clever ad. That's not fair and frankly, not very smart of you. I thought you were better than that. But I certainly don't think that you are racist just because you don't find this offensive. I just think your surroundings and cultural inheritance makes it difficult for you to fully understand and appreciate the context behind this image. And that's OK. But maybe you should try and learn something about the issue and think outside your frame before you form an opinion.
      Actually, I think you and Illamasqua should both plead ignorance on this one ;-)

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  39. Playing with skin colours is always (and still) risky: I think that just as Illamasqua should apologize for this ad - in the end it offended someone -, so it should be clear that there's no reason for actually thinking that this company wanted to intentionally make fun of coloured people, it's a marketing-suicidal tactic and it doesn't make sense!

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  40. Throughout history, BOTH white and black people were put to slavery, but everybody keeps forgeting that. My opinion about this campain is that people tend to exaggerate things. Imagine how many people should get offended each time a skinny model appears in fashion magazine? Cause, let's face it, not everybody is size 0.
    This is art. Deal with it.

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  41. I don't think they actually intended to do blackface but their response and that of their defenders is unacceptable, so I also must unfollow your rss feed.

    I will never again buy another illamasqua product. I might even throw all my illamasqua products out-I don't even want it on my face. They make some really good products, but my family and ancestors didn't suffer and struggle 400 damn years for this.

    Blackface is part of a system of white supremacy which hurts people and destroys lives. Whiteface and blackface are not the same thing. People who are not the target of blackface cannot understand the offense, having never experienced this mockery which is backed up by power and violence.

    The legacy of blackface also contributes to present day colorism within the black community where girls with dark skin are brought up being told by society and even sometimes loved ones that they are not pretty and don't have "good" skin or hair, with celebrities and entertainers (lil wayne, kanye, etc) saying terrible things about dark skinned women.

    Art is not free from social responsibility, especially since the main argument for the importance of art is that it enriches society. They have a right to make any kind of ad they want, and people have a right to criticize them for their b.s. and never buy their stuff again.

    All they had to do was say: "We did not intend to imitate blackface, we are truly sorry if we have hurt anyone, we are committed to equality and diversity so we are removing the ad".

    But I'm not holding my breath so I guess OCC will be on my Christmas list this year instead.

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    1. Honestly, art must be free of social responsability, artists don't have to teach us anything, they express themselves or their own points of view (in good and/or bad ways) :D

      This picture simply isn't art, it's only a makeup ad!

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    2. Even worse if it's just a makeup ad...

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    3. honestly just bc your ancestors were enslaved does not necessarily mean you can be offended by it. there isnt slavery any more and never will be again. black people are recognized every where. I believe a lot of black people act out bc of the fact there used to be slavery and think people look down on them still, noone wants "power" over black people honestly the gov has power over every body, I see it as we're all slaves these days..

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    4. Who are you to tell her what she can on cannot be offended by?! How arrogant off you. It's like some men telling women that women didn't suffer in the past (and still do now somewhere). Like they would know.

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    5. they may have in the past, but thats exactly it, PAST. Im not offended by it because Im not treated that way. I feel sorry for the women who did suffer just as I feel sorry for the blacks that were enslaved. you cant be offended by something that did not happen to you. I would never expect to be treated as a women who once suffered bc Ive never suffered like that, you cant accept "apologies" for a wrongful punishment that did not happen to you.

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  42. Personally, I did not find Illamasqua's picture any offensive or implying any racist connotation. As a brand, Illamasqua is constantly showing any type of women in their adds: skinny, curvy, young, elder, Caucasian, African etc. and they constantly refer to different histories, backgrounds and traditions to create art out of it. I don't believe that Illamasqua intended to hurt anyone's feelings.

    HOWEVER, I can only think and speak for myself. I cannot feel what other people feel. And if anybody, and in this case a group of people, is offended by this campaign - who are we to tell them how to perceive it.. The similarity with minstrel make-up was far not my first thought, but it might have been for the others.

    All I want to say is that I'm pretty sure that Illamasqua didn't mean to offend anyone - why would they? - but if there are still people offended, an apology was a reasonable and wise move.

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  43. Also you have collaborated on a project eith illamasqua before.

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  44. I thought a long time before constructing my comment but it's good to see others have jumped in since I first read your post to eloquently say how I feel. I just want to add that I actually am familiar with Illamasqua and what they do. I even follow the makeup artist involved and I loved and appreciated her works before this. I still think this blackface ad is short-sighted and ignorant.

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  45. I find it telling of certain former subscribers of yours, that they're willing to unsubscribe from such an awesome blog because you presented your opinion on a controversial issue. It's as though they're telling you that your opinion is WRONG, when we all know that there's no such thing as an incorrect opinion. I completely support your right to express your opinion & discuss controversial subjects, and I think you're a better blogger for having the balls to do so. My thoughts on the ad are that the concept was great, but the execution was pretty lousy. I can easily understand how people immediately think "blackface!" from the exaggerated lips on the black side... I definitely thought that. I feel as though the execution is in need of heavy revision. I did not, however, immediately jump to the conclusion that it was anything racist, because despite the fact (or maybe, because of the fact) that I'm a snowflake living in Harlem, I'm not obsessed with racial issues. (Jeez, I hope this is coherent. It's 930 am here & I haven't slept yet, haha)

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    1. Sibyl, it's my absolute pleasure to write a blog for people like you. I do agree with you. Illamasqua has done some awesome promo images/make up looks and this is not one of them.

      Delete
    2. I'm sorry, but "there's no such thing as an incorrect opinion"? Really? I suppose most commentators here are girls/young women. If I were to say: in my opinion all women should be ruled by men because all women are physically, mentally, spiritually and in every way inferior to men, that would be ok and you wouldn't react and argue with me? You wouldn't tell me my opinion was wrong?

      Delete
    3. your (example of) opinion is not wrong or right. We just might agree or disagree, that's all

      Delete
  46. nihrida: Can I also add that this is the internet age! Information is so easy to come by that maybe doing a quick google search before posting this was probably a good idea? I did just that for a couple of minutes and this is what I found:

    "Only white actors were allowed to perform in minstrel shows until 1838, when Lane began performing minstrel acts, but even he was required to wear blackface makeup. It seems absurd now to think of a black man being forced to wear makeup so he can look like a white man made up to look black, but that was the only way he was allowed to perform. In the early years of minstrel shows, white audiences simply would not tolerate an actual black man on stage, but Juba's enormous talent made him so popular that he was soon able to perform in his own skin." http://masterjuba.com/

    Blackface/minstrel shows are done by white people for other white people at the expense and humiliation of black people. Even if you aren't personally offended by the ads, couldn't you at least agree that's pretty disgusting?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did the research. I didn't know about the 'blackface' before. But it's just not the way I see it. For example: Christmas cards in my culture sometimes portrayed a chimney sweep. They wore the same kind of hat the woman on the image does and it reminded me of that. I just didn't see it in a minstrel kind of way. I see why it's offensive, but I just don't look at it that way, neither way that Illamasqua's intention. They apologized anyway. That's that. But if they did want to actually represent minstrel make up, that would be really sick and twisted. I couldn't agree more.

      Delete
    2. Now you are just reaching. Chimney sweeps have coal on their face because of their job and they absolutely do not wear top hats! Minstrel shows are literally white people portraying dressing up as and negatively portraying black people. That's what people are reminded of in this ad (and I'm seeing some people are actually glamorizing it).

      Even if you can't relate to this type of mockery, I think it's a mark of a good person to at least sympathize with those affected. So far, your post and subsequent responses are giving the vibe of "It doesn’t affect me. Therefore, it doesn’t concern me. You are able to belittle it. Make it 'Not a big deal.'"

      Delete
    3. Have you even seen a chimney sweep in real life? They do wear hats, but not that kind of hats anymore. They used to though. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_dLSVgS5AxBI/TGoo0VRyi2I/AAAAAAAAyVs/o0DV-xpyKBA/s1600/ChimneySweep.JPG
      ''That's what people are reminded of in this ad..''
      Do not tell me what the ad reminds me of, because you're not me. How can you talk in the name of all people? Are you considering yourself to be somewhat superior? Yeah, I guess in your world, your way is the only right way. Maybe you'll wake up one day.

      Delete
    4. this isnt 1838 any more. times are different and this is not any kinda of racist statement. there are no slaves any more and black people are recognized every where. just because there used to be slaves there hasnt been any recently. this generation was never enslaved and I personally think that they have no room to be offended by it, I may get back lash for this statement but Im allowed to say what I want. Im not racist and have had many "black" friends in my lifetime, but I never considered them black, I considered them my friends.. I dont see color when it comes to friendship & honestly they were black and got aggravated with most black people getting offended by "slavery" remarks. this generation was never enslaved, if their grandparents were Im sorry but they can be offended, not you.
      (let the hate remarks roll in)

      Delete
  47. Well, I am sorry you had such reactions for expressing your opinion; this saddens me a lot.

    From my point of view (caucasian, non-american) the adverse reactions are understandable, and not only for black people: all of us should react against all forms of racism. Now, Illamasqua made a mistake, that is, they un-purposely released an ad with racist connotations. I can understand Illamasqua as a brand was unaware of such connotations, after all it's an English brand, and Blackface lacra comes from the US.

    But what should not have happened, and that's what constitutes Illamasqua's big mistake, is to not apologize after seing so many people were offended by it. The problem is not having made a mistake, the problem is not trying to correct it when doing so is in your power.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I think both the sides have a point. While I find the images artistic and extremely beautiful, indeed the images are very controversial.
    Typically white has been associated as a binary of black and yes, the pink lips on black skin does bring back some racist concepts which I do not think the brand might have intended actually. But if that happened unintentionally, fine. They apologized and moved on

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, from the message above, they didn't ;)

      Delete
    2. That's unfortunate. Also I felt lost about people from not understanding the concept of blackface or anything racist just because they don;t live in the US. As far as I am aware, the world is becoming a melting pot and we no longer live in a cloister so as not to be aware of racism or other sensitive issues.

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    3. There's nothing racist about something that is true. Here is the definition of racist: a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others. (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn) So tell me how pink lips fits into that...it doesn't. People have lost the ability to distinguish between what personally offends them, & what is a race issue. My question is, had they made a campaign that featured a black model with no makeup & a white model with no makeup, would that have gotten their point across without "offending" anyone? And if they hadn't used to term "I'm NOT Dreaming of a White Christmas" on the side with the black painted model, but instead used, "I'm NOT Dreaming of a Black & White Christmas" i.e. no color on the whole ad, would that have been less offensive to some?

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    4. The reference above is only a single definition which is the key idea but not the whole thing in itself.The concept goes way beyond that which makes it a branch of study in itself where by the the pale pink lips were being questioned.( If there is still haziness going through some previous comments might give a better idea since I feel the response to me came only after a quick google search). Personally, I feel it's better to be well informed before getting judgmental about the others' capacities or incapacities.

      Delete
  49. I don't see what all the fuss is about. The ad looks fine, and I sure don't see it as racist O.o I actually like the contrast of it all, and the simplicity =)

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  50. i think that some ppl need to calm down and keep it simple.
    Illamasqa is a great brand with artistic and provocative ads. That's why we love it!

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  51. I don't find it offensive at all. And I know that a lot of darker skinned individuals will claim that it is only offensive to them, & I think that is ridiculous. People will always find something to complain about & find offensive to them individually & in my opinion, I find that absolutely maddening. Illamasqua did not create this ad to personally offend anyone & the fact that people are bringing that up just goes to show that they are not comfortable in their own skin. They are allowing society to dictate how they should feel, & are if anything just reinforcing stereotypes by bringing it up. I hope I don't have to hear any more about it because people are way too sensitive nowadays.

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    Replies
    1. For anyone to claim that people are "too sensitive" and that their being offended is ridiculous is hugely insulting. None of us, of ANY color (though especially if you haven't faced backlash due to your skin color), have any right to say who can or cannot be offended. It isn't being insensitive, it's being more informed about what is and isn't okay.

      Delete
    2. Shanna... it's just face paint and it wasn't done on purpose... seriously.
      People worry about little things that really don't matter and there is so many relevant things that happen every day but nobody gives a damn.
      If Katelyn thinks it is not offensive than maybe you should let her have her own opinion... you might be hurting her feelings too, you know.

      Delete
  52. I visit your blog from time to time, but now I will follow it! Come on people!
    I am not a racist, but I really hate how the whole world has to be so damn cautious
    not to offend someone. I could be offended everyday if I would be looking for it! But I just put make up on and polish my nails and the world is a little more beautiful, and this is what this blog is about, isnt it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Good attitude. I hate that too.

      Delete
  53. I am white and Caucasian and I live in Europe but just knowing a bit about American history can tell you that the add, if I put it very mildly, is very insensitive. The resemblance with the 'blackface' can not be denied and I think that Illamasqa reaction on this topic is inappropriate. It takes a great man to recognize a mistake or in this case a great Brand.

    Would you feel equally unoffended if they would use this add but added a Hitler style hair und mustache and 'Hitler' symbols on the clothes?

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    Replies
    1. I honestly wouldn't care and my great grandfather died in Dachau.... but I don't get offended easily. Doesn't seem like something of that great importance.

      Delete
  54. The problem with it, and blackface, isn't just that the person is wearing makeup to make them look dark. There is a LOT of history to it, mostly negative, and to continue painting someone in blackface is disgusting.

    Do I think that was Illamasqua's intention? Absolutely not. But it is what they essentially did.

    I didn't understand the issue, at all, until very recently. I was reading a thread and people were trying to explain why it was so negative, but I just didn't get it, until one girl (a POC) said "my skin color is NOT a costume."

    And that's that. Their skin color is not a costume.

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  55. No controversy cause I'm not a racist and it woudnt even crossed my mind... Colors are beautiful and the skin tones too..

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  56. First world problems... Everyone should start worrying about things that matter and stop being offended about stupid crap like face paint. It's just makeup people! I'm pretty sure Illamasqua didn't have a race war in mind when they were doing this photo shoot.

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  57. All I see is a black painted woman and a white painted woman. I do not see a slave, I do not see a blackface actor, I do not see a person of dark colored skin: just two painted women. To parallel this with images of Hitler and his symbols is ludicrous and way off mark.
    People are extremely sensitive these days and lack, in my opinion, perspective and nuance.
    Should we ban the color black (and it's counterpart white) from our palette? No more black coffee, no more pianokeys, no more little black dress, no more Snowwhite, no more black and white nailpolish...? Besides nobody's skin is neither pure black nor pure white: Illamasqua did not use anybody's skincolor as a costume, they just used the colors black and white.

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  58. The picture shows contrast not ordinary skin color - to me this is artistic and not a speculative thing to do.

    What if the it had been a white and a yellow painted model ?
    Had the comments aboute skin color been raced then ? Or is it just a "problem" with darker skin color ?

    We must not forget but now aboute how things has been like and move forward :)

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  59. so should a yin yang be considered racist? Theyre lookin at it as racist because it involves people.. it has nothing to do with race and I sure dont under stand the uproar about it... I absolutely love this picture.

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  60. The only people who could be offended by this are those who have monochromacy - or total color blindness.
    Everyone else is simply dumb.

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  61. Ignorance. Anyone who's ever taken an african american history, american history or even a theatre course at any university can see why this is VERY offensive. If you haven't, don't try to defend it. Don't be so naive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.nihrida.com/2012/11/america.html
      That's all I have to say.

      Delete
    2. Greetings from Finland again. Lets remember, that an European who lives in a country where there has been no slavery is not obligated to pander to the traumas' still affecting the population of the USA because their history of slavery. Forcing ones own reactions to ones own national traumas on others from other countries is cultural imperialism. Yes, I do know what blackface is, but it is something that has no relevance to a Finn, except as a cultural curiosity which is the result of there having been slavery and racial segregation in the USA. I would not dream of being insulted if someone from outside Finland didn't know the national traumas (every nation has some of those) of Finland, and because of that said or did something potentially insulting. Please remember: Not all countries bought slaves from Africa. Those who didn't have no obligation to pandering to the traumas caused by that to the nations who did. It is good and beneficial to be aware of i.a. blackface and its history if you live in North America and its good to have that knowledge even if you don't, but no demands can be made to those who live in non-slave-buying countries. Political correctness is a good thing, but can also be turned into a farce if everything is simple-mindedly seen through one specific issue. Many Europeans know about blackface and its history, but not everyone. Forcing respect for the traumas of USA on other countries and their inhabitants is cultural imperialism.

      Delete
  62. I think I can understand that some people get offended but I don't think that motive behind every painted face is being racist. I believe that it's all about the background. I know Illamasqua and what they represent as a brand. Just think of the S.O.P.H.I.E. foundation and how much awareness they spread with it, I could never think that they are racists. Or the Generation Q where the message is no matter how old are you, you are still beautiful and in other collections they cast different models with different skin types.
    For me personally this image is their unique approach to holidays. Christmas is all about the love and spreading the good mood. With two different sides they just wanted to express that no matter who or what you are you can enjoy the Christmas spirit.

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  63. Just a note: the first african slaves were sold to europeans by african people and that system (just like a bit over the world) existed for hundreds of years before. Then, the european took the african slaves to their american colonies, beggining in South America.. Only hundreds (yes, hundreds) of years later, the USA were created, and it took long to they to ban slavery, so I understand the feeling, it's more recent, but this wasn't even a campain for the USA.. No one meant to be racist and no one knows everything that might be offensive for this or that people. I think it was a sad coincidence. Some see as art, some see as offensive..some just see an add

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  64. Dear anonymous: Us Finns didn't buy african slaves at any point in our history. Thus forcing us to comply with the sensitivity of an american to anything which can be vaguely interpreted as the dreaded blackface is a clear example of cultural imperialism.

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  65. To be honest I actually had to google what blackface was to even understand what this whole debate was about, and sorry, but I don't even get what wrong was there with minstrels and blackface theatre in the first place, aside from it being from the era of slavery - I mean, nowadays we have shows where men dress as women and Asians dress as white people and straight people dress as gay people, but it's all for the sake of humour, right? As for this campaign, it could have been more interesting if they painted a black woman with white paint!

    ReplyDelete

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