White Girl Poses for African Queen Shoot

White Girl Poses for African Queen Shoot

In a recent editorial for Numero magazine white model Ondria Hardin poses as an "African Queen." With a ton of deep bronzer the white model fit the part, but why not choose an African American model? The modeling agency that represents Ondria also had several black women to choose from, however the magazine chose to paint Ondria instead.

I personally think the magazine and agency could have found a better model to fit the part. Should the magazine have hired a black woman instead of painting Ondria black to fit the African Queen editorial?




(via Jezebel)
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This is a seriously, seriously pointless post.  I love fstoppers, but if this is an effect of bringing on new writers then please, don't bring on new writers.  

Zach Sutton's picture

Jerrit is one of the oldest writers on the site. Furthermore, I think this absolutely applies to the fashion industry, which is a large portion of the photography community.

The beauty of the website is that we post multiple articles a day, so if one doesn't catch your fancy, you have the option of looking at the other posts from the day.

Which is what I normally do, but this is a shock-driven article that ultimately people will have an opinion on, but nobody will learn anything from the discussion.  Normally I can be guaranteed to learn something new when I read a comment thread on an fstoppers piece, this is just going to polarize opinions in an unhelpful way.  But hey, it might drive traffic.

Zach Sutton's picture

Its opening a stream of discussion on the current moral issues of the fashion industry. Perhaps you won't learn something from that, but certainly someone will.

And sure, this isn't some fancy new product announcement or a well put together video on YouTube, but its something still worth discussing on a photography website.

If you were hired to shoot this piece, and you saw that they were essentially putting a model in black face, would you say something? Do you have an obligation to say something, or are you there solely to press the shutter button?

Fair enough.

No, I wouldn't say anything I had shot that piece.  I wouldn't have liked it much, but I wouldn't have said anything.  

Zach Sutton's picture

And that's where we differ. I would have said something, and shown some sort of unbefittingness towards the whole scene.

So perhaps we could learn a thing or two from each other...

And here you were saying that nothing with a point could come from this post.

Haha, I like what you did there.  I didn't learn something, I knew people would have a different opinion - but I get your point.  And I apologize for being harsh on Jerrit.

As someone who isn't remotely involved in the fashion world, I probably would never have seen these photos. However, they do interest me as both a photographer and a person, so thank you to Jarrit for posting it.

I'm saddened that your post is the first in the list of comments - it really sucks to read an article and first thing see a hateful, ignorant, and pointless comment come up first. This is a problem with comments sections in general, but especially photography: someone has to say it sucks, is pointless, inane, or miscategorized. 

I'm sorry it doesn't interest you, but the team of writers on Fstoppers doesn't work for you, they work for the readers. They have different tastes. They post varied content to appeal to different people, and maybe even extend your horizons.

Next time you feel the need to shoot down someone else's work, maybe think about being constructive. Maybe this article would've been more suited to your tastes if the author addressed the way the portraits were lit? Maybe you feel that it needs more photography-specific technical information? If you can't come up with a reason to read it, maybe you should just save everyone's time and NOT post a comment, and instead go lurk reddit or something. Let those of us that want to comment and have a discussion about the topic at hand do that, while you go spend your time elsewhere.

First, let me address the "hateful" comment - if I was inclined to use profanity towards someone, this is where I'd use it.  I work for a non-profit that spends 90% of it's resources towards racial equality throughout the world, so you can shove it saying hateful.  

My annoyance wasn't at the content of the post, it was at the thought of  what the comments section might turn into in a post like this.  Clearly I may have misread the situation, and have already apologized about my harshness towards Jerrit and taken on board what Zach said.
But yeah, you can do one saying that I'm ignorant and hateful.  

I understand that you and Zach came to an understanding, but I still don't think you understand. I don't think you're hateful. Apparently you do good work, and that's awesome.

Your comment displays a certain entitlement and self-righteousness that is so prevalent on the internet. It occurs to me that, yes, my rant was a little much. However, you must recognize that, especially given your concerns about what the comments would "turn into in a post like this," your comment that states "This is a seriously, seriously pointless post" would certainly make the comments all the worse.

But that's why, to me, it was pointless, because I thought it would spawn discussion that is not at all productive.  Unwittingly, I then spawned that kind of discussion myself.

Entitlement and self-righteousness?  Again, you can do one man.  It was poorly worded, I'm the first to admit that, but acting as though it came from a place of hatred, white privilege, entitlement, whatever - that's just ridiculous.  My statement was poorly chosen, I've tried to clarify my point and apologized in Jerrit's direction, but any psycho-analysis you're trying to make is way, way off track.

I deeply disagree. This is really big issue in fashion photography (as well as other creative arts and society as a whole).

This is a topic that needs to be discussed. I understand that the author did not go into any deeper issues , but he did essentially sum up part of the problem and open it up for conversation. From what I can tell, fstoppers has a philosophy that they don't take a side in political/social issues.

Alvin Dharmawan's picture

As a society we are so immersed in white privilege where something like this that should offend us...doesn't? That's definitely a big problem...and far from pointless.

OK, well I'm going to ignore the fact you assumed it didn't offend me, it does.  But it doesn't offend me any more than seeing the kind of skinny, barebones models they pick for the majority of shoots instead of more full-bodied girls, and it doesn't offend me any more than seeing the amount of retouching they do on models who still only weigh 100 pounds. 

So I would leave "white privilege" out of it, that was nowhere near my point.

Is the model from South Africa? If so, there's nothing wrong with it, until they put her in "black face"

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

She is from North Carolina. 

David Leyland's picture


This isn't a new issue. Anyone remember all those old westerns where white men were painted up to look like the native people of the USA?

Specifically in fashion, I do see many black models who get chosen because they have "white" features. Kinda sad but there has been progress in our society. Ask anyone over 70 years old.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

I agree it goes both ways for sure. My girlfriend was cut out of musical in NY because they needed more color in the show. She was with the show since the beginning but the guys with money wanted a black girl. 

This is a real issue, this is the reason why people do chirurgical operation or try to get their skin whiter.
This  can't append in France, it's just racism.Because of the domination of white men image, they're is a social racism in France. Some people avoid arab or black people for no reason.Girls are scared of them.You can't just ignore this.

Anthony Thurston's picture

How is this offensive? They chose to make a creative decision and paint a white person black. Maybe she is what they were looking for, except for skin color. People need to stop being so sensitive over everything. If this was about a black model that was painted white for a shoot we would not be having this discussion. enough said. 

 I think you would be correct if they were making a statement about race, then it would be a valid artistic decision. Otherwise they are creating a distraction to their own concept.

As artists, I believe they have the right to free speech, but if the photographer/magazine chooses to ignore the baggage that comes along with their representations (i.e. the history of black face in white culture and its implications), I question their skill as artists in reading the culture and producing a photograph with a clear concept without unnecessary distractions.

I also question the ethics of hiring a model of one race to represent another. It has whiffs of racial discrimination. The implication being that out of all the black models out there, the white model was better (at being black?). This has historically been the position of any culture that oppresses another.

I am not saying the magazine or photographers are racist, or intentionally discriminating, but what they did is inherently racially, culturally, and historically insensitive. This isn't about people being butt-hurt. It is about messaging, and they apparently suck at it.

This statement is completely pointless.

I don't think I agree. If it was vice versa we would indeed still be having this discussion. You don't know if it was a creative decision. It may have just been they'd rather have a white person's facial features represent in their magazine. So yes, people are allowed to feel offended by that prospect.

Are you serious??? The photoshoot was about african queens and instead of using an actual african queen they use a white girl....it'd be just as bad if they used any other person who wasn't African or of African descent. That's like doing a photo spread on a particular high school's dress/looks and you don't even use actual students from that school. Instead, you hire 19 and 20 year olds bc you think they'll make the spread look better. It's insulting.

To answer your question regarding how is this offensive, it is offensive because the representation marginalizes black women. Marginalize is to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group. The creative team's decision to put a white women in black face conveys the message (whether intentional or not) that a/ any black woman cannot/does not represent or portray the image of an African queen. "People" with a dissenting opinion of this creative work aren't being so sensitive they're just tired of seeing blatant truths circumvented and dealing with the "peoples" superiority complexes.  Btw...when was the last time you saw a black model painted white???

P.S Any magazine that decides to create a fake black person to portray "the African Queen" is not very creative because they're trying to damn hard. #limitedvision #epicfail

You are being ignorant right now. and of course you are white. hah funny.

I can see your point about it being a little weird when they have "other options".   It's like photographing  a Chevy Camaro for a Ford Mustang Ad and photoshopping it so that it looks like the Mustang.  It's a little weird, BUT, it's their magazine, it's their taste and it's their brand so they can do what they want.  This happens ALL THE TIME on different levels in the industry, Old people photographed to look young, fat people photographed to look skinny,  etc... If they're going for a certain look, a look that they think hasn't been done before, then thinking outside the box might have led to the decision to "photograph a white chick painted to look like an African American".  That certainly has a different look to it, one that I haven't seen before.  It's Advertising, almost everything is falsely skewed to look like something that it isn't.   Just my 2 pennies.

well then they shouldn't call it African Queens. Call it white girl from North Carolina.

Who cares?? This is a ridiculous post.  They saw a model who fit what they wanted and they made it work.  Why do they use makeup on young people instead of hiring someone old?  Where's the post on that?  This is the same bullshit as the gay ad being rejected.  People just want to cause controversy and arguments.  If the photographer was racist, they probably wouldn't have a "black" person featured at all.

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