Kylie Jenner Under Fire for “Blackface” Photo

Noel Duan
Kylie Jenner edited the caption of this photo to say, “This is a black light and neon lights people lets all calm down @marcelocantuphoto @joycebonelli @chrisdylanhair @hubblestudio.” Photo: Instagram.
Kylie Jenner edited the caption of this photo to say, “This is a black light and neon lights people lets all calm down @marcelocantuphoto @joycebonelli @chrisdylanhair @hubblestudio.” Photo: Instagram.

Proving the Kardashian/Jenner gang can’t avoid controversy for more than a few days, Kylie Jenner has come under fire for posting a photo on Instagram that many are claiming is blackface.

The original caption read, “What I wish I looked like all the time.”

The model was quick to refute the accusations.

“This is a black light and neon lights people,” said Jenner, changing the caption of her first photo. “Let’s all calm down.”

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She also tagged her hair and makeup team, possibly to point out that they were the minds behind the look.

A day later, Jenner posted another photo from the same shoot, which does appear to be manipulated by black light and neon lights.

The second photo from the controversial shoot. Photo: Instagram.
The second photo from the controversial shoot. Photo: Instagram.

In the two images posted, Jenner’s skin appears much darker than usual, with a shiny, almost-metallic finish to it, while her hair is a mix of black, magenta, and violet.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, she sarcastically remarked, “Yes, In another world I wish I could have pink hair & blue eyes & covered in sparkles.”

Zendaya, the singer who recently shot back at Giuliana Rancic for offensive comments the E! correspondent made about her dreadlocks, was one of the first commenters of the image.

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“Eff it up,” she wrote, initially in favour of the photo. After negative comments came rolling in likening Jenner’s look to blackface, Zendaya changed her tune and Tweeted, “I didn’t see it like that at fi[r]st [sic]…that’s crazy.”

Regardless of the lighting techniques, the resulting images have offended people.

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In the racist minstrel shows of the 19th century, charcoal, burnt cork, and even greasepaint and shoe polish were used as theatrical “makeup” to represent a black character.

The usage of blackface in fashion magazines, consequently, harkening back to minstrel shows of the past, continues the tradition of using the blackness of a model to represent “edginess.” (This has long been documented in the media.)

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It doesn’t matter whether blackface is an illusion created using artificial lights in 2015 or with shoe polish in 1899, it can still be viewed as thoughtless and wrong.
While the intentions may have been a creative, artsy photo, the finished effect is offensive to many.

Here’s to hoping that people are more sensitive when it comes to skin-altering makeup and techniques in the future.