Beyonce blackens face for photo shoot

February 25, 2011, 9:48 amlifestylechannels

The singer has sparked controversy for darkening her face for a tribal-inspired magazine shoot.

Beyonce blackens face for photo shoot

They say it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white – but Beyonce has caused quite a stir by wearing blackface make-up in a recent photo shoot.

The singer darkened down her complexion to pay homage to Nigerian musician and humanitarian Fela Kuti – who has reportedly heavily influenced her fourth album – in French fashion magazine L’Officiel Paris.

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Focused on the theme of “African rituals”, the photos show Beyonce donned in tribal-style clothing and accessories for the 90th anniversary of the glossy.

In the photos her face is distinctly black in contrast with the rest of her body, which has been left in her natural caramel skin tones.

The Crazy in Love star was reportedly inspired by Broadway musical "Fela", based on the icon's life and brave defiance against government corruption and of which her husband, Jay-Z, is a producer.

But the “African Queen” themed photos have come under fire in the blogging world, including from feminist blogger Jezebel.

“When you paint your face darker in order to look more "African," aren't you reducing an entire continent, full of different nations, tribes, cultures and histories, into one brown color?” wrote Jezebel.

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“What makes someone black — or African, for that matter — is not her skin tone. The African diaspora reaches from Brazil to Haiti to the United Kingdom and Pakistan. It's one thing to feel moved by Fela Kuti, and quite another to treat blackness as a fashion accessory, like a pair of glittery heels you put on because it looks cool.”

Atlanta Post writer Charing Ball has also slammed the photos, saying: “While my adoration for Beyonce’s talent and work ethic are unparalleled, I’m not quite sure as to why she would agree to do a photo shoot that associates her with one of the most deeply rooted racist images in American history.”

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L’Officiel Paris has defended the shoot, saying the Beyonce star was “paying homage to African queens” by replicating several African rituals in which paint is used on the face.

The use of blackface make-up on white models has become something of a trend in the fashion world.

French Vogue caused a racism uproar in 2009 when they ran a 14-page editorial featuring Dutch model Lara Stone in black make-up in their October issue. The issue was dedicated to “Supermodels” but did not feature any models with naturally black skin.

Rumours that Beyonce had actually contrastingly lightened her skin circulated earlier this month when she appeared with bleached blonde hair and what seemed to be a paler complexion.

In 2008 L’Oreal was also accused of digitally lightening her skin tone for one its commercials.

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  1. Christine12:50am Saturday 30th April 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    The criticism for this shoot might not be constructive yet they've made their points... which don't really relate to the reason for the choice of colour. Bit narrow-minded. Relax a little? Enjoy the art.

  2. miranda11:17pm Saturday 12th March 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    Shut up

  3. 11:14pm Wednesday 09th March 2011 ESTReport Abuse

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  4. imagine11:18pm Saturday 26th February 2011 ESTReport Abuse


  5. Bodhi08:48am Saturday 26th February 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    bite me !

  6. Dave08:08am Saturday 26th February 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    She is black how can she be racist against blacks? Get off you high wagon!

  7. Number1707:03am Saturday 26th February 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    don't think it matters, she's an African American anyways!.. Its not as bad as that blackface episode on hey hey its Saturday.

  8. chiefdryno04:38am Saturday 26th February 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    Wake up people!!! What makes someone AFRICAN is NOT the colour of his or her skin but the BEAUTIFUL CONTINENT (AFRICA) they came from..... Considering North Africans, West Africans, East Africans, Central Africans and Southern Africans... There is color variations across the entire continent..... So Beyonce being that she is black ( African back ground) didn't have to accept to paint her face... She is already accepted as African despite she has lightened her skin hahahahaha. But who cares anyways... its her life!

  9. chiefdryno04:20am Saturday 26th February 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    um nice picture but why did she have to create the controversy in the first place??? Beyonce is black did she forget that?? IM SURE SHE DID... If she was a white person it would have been quite understandable to paint her face... lmao

  10. kamal03:39am Saturday 26th February 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    wow,she is completely different , l ike her a lot i can marry her any time any day