Blackface. Nope. It’s not okay. EVER.

3 Dec


So Illamasqua, a makeup company based in the UK, put out an ad campaign to promote their products using a model in blackface, sparking an outrage across the internet.


First, a word in defence of Illamasqua.  This is a make-up company that is very theatrical and will very often poke fun at our traditional ideas about beauty and artifice.








Their whole business is built on the idea of self-expression through make-up, and the idea that women should not just wear make-up, BUT SHIT TONS OF IT, is how they make money.  Having said that, the Christmas campaign featuring a model not JUST wearing blackface but ALSO with exaggerated pink lips and a stupid little bow tie is not just cutting a little too close to the edge, it’s right fucking over it!


Blackface as a tradition was used in North America to explicitly mock and make fun of black culture and black people.  Black people were ENSLAVED, and the slightest hint of rebellion could and did see them murdered in any grotesque and torturous way you can imagine.  This lead to oh, a little bit of life-saving obsequiousness.  Think Mammy wanted to grovel and stammer?  Wrong, asshole.  She wanted to KILL, but knew that would mean giving up her own life, the lives of her children, her family, her loved ones.  So grovel she did.  And Uncle Tom and Little Black Sambo grovelled and danced , too.


Danced for their lives.




Blackface is not, and never has been funny.  The fact is that we still live in a brutally and deeply racist culture. You only have to look at Chris Brown to see how close black men live to being defined as animals. Yeah, Chris is an asshole.  So is every guy who beats the shit out of his girlfriend.  But Chris is an asshole while black, and that’s a dangerous place to be.


Illamasaqua was trying to be playful and edgy with their black/white Christmas campaign.  I get that.  Everybody screws up.  But there is nothing funny or playful about our culture’s history and treatment of black people.  Slapping black makeup on a white model is horribly misguided at best, and horrifyingly racist at worst.


And countries like the Netherlands that STILL show Santa’s helpers as being African slaves?  Yeah, fuck you, Netherlands.




I’m not going to join the chorus to boycott Illamasqua, because I think it was a case of not stopping to think. If you’re gonna buy that super dark foundation though, you better be fucking black.




Lots of love,



5 Responses to “Blackface. Nope. It’s not okay. EVER.”

  1. driversuz December 3, 2012 at 16:25 #

    Is anybody outraged by the one wearing whiteface? Or was she just a smokescreen?


  2. judgybitch December 3, 2012 at 16:36 #

    No. No outrage over the whiteface because having a white face hasn’t meant much in terms of oppression historically. Maybe if they dressed a white model up in geisha white face, you could argue that’s a bit racist.

    But nothing compared to mocking the pain of black people, especially those brought as slaves to North America. That’s a horrific history and it’s just not funny in any way.


  3. driversuz December 3, 2012 at 18:11 #

    Of course it’s horrific. That doesn’t make a picture of a model pained all black, a reference to it. Especially when that photo is next to a similar one done in all white. The only way to logically say that the all black picture is racist, is to insist that the all white picture was used as a smoke screen behind which a racist editor was hiding. “I can get away with publishing a racist image if I juxtapose it with another image so it can be described as ‘artistic contrast,’ instead of racism.”

    Who would automatically assume that this is the impetus behind a 21st century ad campaign? A work of art that happens to be reminiscent of a historical art form that was racist, is not Racism. Slowly destroying the institution of the black family by making black men “obsolete,” and locking them behind bars so they can’t rebel, is Racism.

    We all have triggers. It’s very VERY important to stop and think carefully when our triggers are tripped. If we don’t we will always be easily manipulated by ideologues who make use of ideologies we don’t realize we hold. If you’re looking for a monster under the bed, you will find one.


  4. judgybitch December 3, 2012 at 18:19 #

    Agree, driversuz. But this image gave the black model HUGE lips and that bowtie is so evocative of minstrely, which is just straight up racism.

    I think Illamaqa was just thoughtless. Nothing deliberate or calculated. That’s why I don’t support a boycott. But those asshole in the Netherlands who dress up as black Santa slaves chap my ass. That’s outrageous!


  5. driversuz December 4, 2012 at 00:29 #

    The all white girl is dressed exactly the same; however you have a point about the lip size. Could just be an accident, but it is somewhat evocative. And you’re dead on about the black Santa’s slaves. That’s just disgusting.


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