Illamasqua Getting Backlash from Blackface Holiday Campaign

November 27, 2012


Makeup artists love to push the envelope and sometimes they go a bit too far.  Yesterday, UK beauty brand Illamasqua posted on its Australian Facebook wall its holiday campaign featuring a white model in blackface with the caption, “I’m Not dreaming of a white Christmas.” The folks at Jezebel caught wind of the ad and cried ‘blackface.’  Fans of the brand also cried foul, citing the campaign’s racially insensitive undertones.

Despite outrage, the photo is still up with following statement justifying it:

We thank and acknowledge your comments regarding the above image. Obviously it was never our intention to cause offence; Illamasqua has always celebrated the right to self-expression and we continually push creative and artistic boundaries, priding ourselves on working with models of many ethnic backgrounds to reinforce this point. Alex Box, Illamasqua’s Creative Director, has emphasised that this campaign is about colour ON the skin, not colour OF the skin, depicting polarity between the two images (both images are the same model) not race.

Honestly it’s extremely insensitive for a brand to think it’s ‘art’ to recreate a look that was deemed racially vulgar.  Painting a white model all black with light lips and a top hat is reminiscent of the minstrel shows of yesteryear.  Did Illamasqua not consult with its PR team to decide whether posting such an insensitive image would cause a rift with its customers?  The brand’s refusal to remove the image after such outcries by the public goes to show how irresponsible a lot of brands still are when it comes to being more aware of racial insensitivities and taboos in today’s society.

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