Some people have wondered whether Beyonce is white or not. A recent ad from L’Oreal (see photo) raises that question once more.
The far left image is a (mostly) unmodified image of Beyonce and clearly shows that her skin is not white. The right hand image (which has been photoshopped) makes Beyonce appear rather white.
Naturally, this image has created a stir about race.
Advertising images of models are, of course, almost always altered (typically with Photoshop). Even before the images are modified, the models are carefully posed, illuminated, and coated in make-up for just the right look. As such, what we see is not the real appearance of the person. Rather, we are presented with an illusion that is intended to present an image of ideal beauty.
While this sort of thing raises concerns about how women are presented, this specific situation raises a concern about race and beauty. Since the intent of such modifications is to create the above mentioned illusion of beauty, one might suspect that the whitening of the image of a darker skinned woman sends the message that white is more beautiful than dark. This certainly seems to be a racist view.
Naturally, it could be argued that the whiteness is an accident or unintended. While this is a possibility, many would regard this claim as unlikely.
In any case, this situation does provide fertile grounds for the discussion of race and conceptions of beauty.
Well, maybe the ad raises more questions about what L’oreal believes about the target group. Is it a product more used by white women? So maybe they think the ad will be accepted only if the model is thought to be white: not “beauty” but acceptance. If this is the case than the ad is a lie — seems to me philosophical interesting in itself…
While the editors of Loreal may have intended to reach a specific demographic (i.e. white females), whilst using a celebrity, this ad is extremely damaging (whether we want to admit it or not).
It is subconsciously perpetuating the myth that something is inherently “wrong” with a black woman (in this case Beyonce) looking like a woman of color (whether she be light or dark skinned).
Yes, in both pictures Beyonce is very beautiful (naturally). However, one is authentic and the other is an illusion (presented as authenticity). Loreal is essentially telling the public, particularly young black women, that this (blonde hair and fair skin) is the ideal…Now emulate it to the best of your ability.
So, If you are a person that can’t possibly fit the “standard” of what is considered “beautiful” then what?
Our beauty industry has damaged the self esteem of so many black women time and time again. I love Beyonce but the photograph sickens me, as an African American.
She is openly white. She just happens to be black.
PS Rest in peace, George.
Michael LaBossiere says
The beauty industry does seem to a be a potentially harmful one. I cannot imagine having to put so much concern into appearance-that must really drain a person’s time and create the possibility for considerable worry.
The metro-sexual thing did seem to threaten to bring men into the beauty mess. Fortunately, that had no appeal to me.