Beyonce Covers French Magazine…In Blackface?

by Britni Danielle

Well, it seems like Beyonce’s been having a very interesting week. After attending the Grammy’s and looking quite fabulous clad in all black with bestie Gwyneth Paltrow by her side, Bey caught some flack from a British paper for looking too white.

The article wondered if Beyonce’s pale skin, blonde locks, and increasingly waifish figure sent the wrong message to little Black girls around the globe.

Well, how the tables have turned. Recently images from Beyonce’s cover shoot with French mag L’Officiel hit the net, and let’s just say they’re a bit controversial.

L’Officiel, a French fashion magazine, is celebrating its 90th anniversary and tapped Beyonce’ to grace it’s March 2011 cover. The issue also honors legendary Nigerian singer and activist, Fela Kuti, and because of this, Beyonce is styled as an “African Queen.”  In the magazine, Bey is rocking a stunning African-themed headdress, long braids…and blackface.

*record scratch*

Wait. What?

L’Officiel writes,

“The Fashion magazine is about to celebrate its 90th birthday. To celebrate this anniversary, the festivities start with the March issue, with Beyoncé on the cover. She agreed to pose for an incredible fashion shoot, with the theme of African Queen, paying a tribute to the legendary Fela Kuti. Far from the glamorous Sasha Fierce, the beauty posed for the magazine with amazing fashion designers clothes, but also in a dress created by her mother. [It is] A return to her African roots, as you can see on the picture, on which her face was voluntarily darkened. All the pictures will be available in the collector edition, on sell at the end of this month.”

At first glance, the photograph just looks ridiculous. Darkening Beyonce’s face is not only jarring, but it also does little to highlight her as an “African Queen.” Moreover, I don’t understand how putting her in blackface–which is utterly offensive to most Blacks, especially in America–is the proper way to honor Fela Kuti, a man wholly concerned with the freedom of Blacks/Africans throughout the Diaspora.

While I understand the compulsion to use Beyonce as the model for an “African Queen” (I mean, she’s one of the biggest stars in the world), would it have really been that difficult to either feature her as she naturally is or hire an actual African model? To darken her face (which she agreed to do) evokes all sorts of uncomfortable cultural references that I’m sure neither Beyonce or the magazine wanted to bring up.

Check out behind the sceens footage of Beyonce’s L’Officiel shoot. What do you think of Beyonce’s choice to pose in Blackface? Sound off!

  • Domino

    If they had left her as she is then people would have complained about that too saying she’s too light skinned to be an African Queen.

  • boho.barbie

    I don’t understand why just her face is darkened and not her whole body, which would have been beautiful. A dark brown face contrasting with her golden brown skin looks a bit ridiculous!

  • LoveBrownSugar

    What’s interesting is that there’s only actually one look where she’s portrayed in blackface. The rest of the looks from the shoot, she’s natural sans the blackface. I’m confused by that :/

  • Milaxx

    Beyonce may have been a big “get” for the mag, but the black face styling is such a big NO in my book. If this is truly about a tribute to Fela, why not get African models or perhaps even cast members from the play?

  • Tomi Ogundayo

    I honestly don’t think this is blackface (it’s not like she’s full-on ‘negroid’ there’s a GRADATION FROM TOE TO HEAD), or offensive =/. However, I acknowledge how it can be construed as such.
    But really…in my honest opinion, there are better things to worry about.
    And Beyonce’s going to catch sh*t no matter what she does.
    We shouldn’t be aiding this rubbish.

  • mrs. thomas

    Clownish and not necessary. African comes in all colors. Not just dark.

  • fuchsia

    Unnecessary, and why would Bey agree? That’s what I don’t get.

  • Paris Chanel

    I said the same thing! They would’ve been better off making her whole body that color…I’m curious to why she would agree to wear it anyway. This is just a shame!

  • LT

    Little girl lost…..she might be a star (I dont know about the world’s greatest), but she certainly is not educated. If she were, she would not agree to subjecting herself to “blackface”. Her actions shows that she is not aware of history and is totally lost. I guess you can say “gain the world to lose your soul”. Obviously, money takes precedence over dignity, pride and self respect. Shameful….

  • Naptural9ja

    As an American African, I totally agree. I am deeply offended by the message she sends – regardless of her intent.

  • SF

    I just can’t BELIEVE she actually agreed to do it… I mean damn isn’t our black beautiful in every shade! Not to mention thats the only picture like such so what was the point of it all o_O

  • LT

    she’s sickening….

  • minna k.

    There is something we have to remember. She was a bred entertainer from (practically) birth, not educated for the most part and very VERY sheltered. She is extremely apolitical, nieve as Pollyana, and at this point in the game (she is going to be 30 this year) willfully so. She may be wealthy but she functions in society as a pawn to keep us entertained and/or insecure with our own lives. That is how superstardom works.

    As “well traveled” as she may be while touring, i doubt her intellect or cultural understanding reaches beyond the confines of the hair magazines in her mothers salon in texas. She is not really a thinker or a leader. She is a do-er. In other words, she doesn’t have a clue.

  • Shermel B. Sherman

    Beyonce is just awful for this. It’s offensive because it’s tacky. Nothing about this photoshoot reads diva or amazing singer.

  • Alexandra

    Seriously. Her agreeing to this just perpetuates the misconception that in order to be African, you have to be of a darker complexion. I think she’s so dumb for this.

    She is not known for being smart anyway.

  • Candace Nicole

    Wow…I couldn’t have said it better. Totally agree

  • Lila

    I really don’t view Beyonce as being waifish and you have to admit that she needed to shed a pound or two. I also do not believe that she is responsible for how little Black girls around the globe view themselves. Their role models should be their parents.

  • t. price

    Thank you, if they had left her the way she was then they would’ve complained about her not being “black” enough to tribute and African person. smh

  • bb

    I’m now starting to believe the rumors that despite her talent of singing and dancing Beyonce is truly DUMB…..Silly me, I should have believed them in the first place. Maybe then this photoshoot wouldn’t have been as shocking…. much like hearing DMX was sent to prison for the umpteenth time

  • ash

    all you people do is complain. she painted herself black face or whatever …personal;y i think they shoulda done the whole body not the face, that makes her just look weird. but goodness beyonce isn’t JESUS, isnt it enough she is the #1 singer, isn’t a slut,doesn’t do drugs and sets a clean image? WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT. she is a regular person not a god, get off her back and rely on yourself for self esteem or image or whatever else you try to find in her.

  • t. price

    oh stop the hysteria already. it was meant to be artistic and high fashion, while representing the various shades of black people. you can see in another photo that the darkening is more gradual which shows various shades. people always try and find the negative in everything, especially when it involves a celebrity. besides this is not black face, google it and you’ll see what it really looks like. black face looks bafoonish with exaggerated lips and eyes, in these photos her face is just painted. chill out.

  • Viva Lola



  • chinaza

    I lost respect for her because it shows me that she is a slave.
    That may be too complex for her devotees to understand.

  • KweenBee

    I agree. It does NOT look like Blackface to me neither.
    First of all… it’s BROWN makeup, not Black!
    Beyonce may secretly yearns to be darker…

  • C

    Very well said. *Applauding*

  • African Mami

    I took offense to this photo…If you are going to honor a LEGEND that is FELA KUTI, goddamn it, do it RIGHT!!!!

    Alek Wek….hello?! Iman…she could have unretired for this shoot right here?! Liya Kebede….hello?!

    African Queens don’t look like that. Jesus! She makes us look scary….If you are going to go with a theme, RESPECT the culture….all this blackening(the fuck?! we are not all chocolate, they could have retained her authentic color) and adding braids (to make it seem more authentically African?) EPIC FAIL.

    Fuck outta here Beyonce, whatever French magazine this was!

  • African Mami


    You are absolutely right on the sensitivity part. I am especially when LEGENDS from the continent are honored in this untasteful manner…..Fela is def. rolling in his grave!

  • light skin african

    ahhh hello there are light skinned africans even white..this is to the 1st and second response at the top…you cant be serious clearly you are not african 1 and 2 you have no idea what africans look like…pls go and educate your self..better yet go visit the motherland and see african people smh what are those comments suppose to mean all african are black dark etc

  • African Mami

    @ lsa,

    tell them for us oo! They think we all look like chocolate…they don’t know there is caramel toffee …..we have suffered in the hands of these idiots.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    in the old days we would not have seen this since it was in france.
    now, with the internet, all your dirt comes to light.

  • QueenofNewcastle

    @minna k.

    Shut the hell up. You dont know anything about this girl. Maybe she does know the history. Maybe all the hundreds of people who run around her, with college degrees, who have crafted her look, know the history. Maybe she made an independent choice to do this shoot because she saw some artistic merit, admired the creative direction, and went for it.

    I know the history. I went and graduated from college. I have studied abroad and am well travelled. I now live abroad. I would have done the shoot in the heart beat.

  • Trudy

    Disclaimer – I do like Beyonce’s music and performances.

    Um…this doesn’t look like traditional Blackface but visual appearances aside, I think Blackface was in fact the magazine’s intent. The art itself is poor in my opinion, but again, art is all opinion.

    I think it is unfortunate that Beyonce agreed to this campaign. Just seems like it will be a PR nightmare. However, I do not think she has no single-handedly destroyed the Black race as some would imply.

  • binks

    She looks like a cut and paste doll. She looks gorgous on the cover but I just don’t understand the other pictures. I mean they could have at least went the ful monty and paint her entire body one color why stop at the face and neck???? You are just asking for a reference for black face there. Though I don’t think this is blackface per se, i think people are using that term to loosely. I think this issue would have been so much better if they got beyonce and a bunch of black models of various colors to shot and celebrate the issue because this makes no sense

  • Sasha

    I don’t understand why they felt a need to darken Beyonce’s face in order for her to represent an “African Queen”. Africans come in all skin colors just like Black Americans do, so they could have kept her original color. Secondly, if they wanted someone to represent an “African Queen” and pay homage to Fela Kuti, why not just hire an African model?????

  • African Mami

    @ Sasha,

    Secondly, if they wanted someone to represent an “African Queen” and pay homage to Fela Kuti, why not just hire an African model?????

    Fela is a man of great calibre for this nonsense to be approved!

  • Melissa

    She should be embarrassed.

  • renee

    beyonce looked a mess and that was in poor taste – she’s black so she didn’t need to “darken” her face to be a black woman. if anything, she needs to sit outside in the sun and allow the melanin to migrate in her skin cells, she is far too light.

    and for all the idiots out there, blackface… they wouldn’t paint all of their skin black. and there was some idiot who said “that’s not blackface, she’s in brown paint!” << please, don't reproduce.

    i love beyonce's music, i am a fan, but she really needs to use her brain cells before doing a shoot like this.

  • Soul Touch

    Blackface is to portray an insulting stereotype of black people; a mockery. Painting her face darker is not blackface unless she is portraying a negativity stereotype. Being dark is NOT a negative stereotype.

    She was asked to do the shoot because of her status as a celebrity, the obviously painted her darker in some of the shots to send a message or create a vision of the artist/photographer.

  • Soul Touch

    Oh, and this is not the first time fashion as changed faces. Alek did a shoot painted white, does that mean she is doing white face or wants to be white? No, it’s just a vision.

  • Tomi Ogundayo

    Exactly! Why are some people so quick to anger?
    I’m personally more offended by the use of ‘blackface’ in this article than the picture itself.The definition was OVER simplified in order to sell the writer’s point of view…


  • Soul Touch

    What kills me the most is that people are insulted that Africans are being portrayed as dark…as if that’s the actually insult.

  • Isis

    She should be. A mess

  • Lena

    I’m really not surprised by this. Over time, Beyonce has done everything in her power to make herself as light as possible. First of all, she is quick to point out that she’s “Creole,” not realizing that Creoles come in all shades, just like any other African or African-American. I have Creole heritage too, like many other African-Americans, and there is no way you would mistake me for being anything other than African-American. Second, she’s lightened her skin considerably (realize that black people don’t get lighter as we age, we generally get darker.) Beyonce is no longer brown, but her skin has taken on a gold appearance, not golden, but gold, like a coin. Look at the picture in the above article. Sometimes she’s even glittery, LOL. Here’s a pic: Third, do I have to mention the blond hair that we all know she wasn’t born with? Fourth, the nose job where she tweaked her nose just enough to make it a little more European. Here’s the link:—Had-She-Had-Nosejob-187336. Fifth, and finally, now she’s lightened her eyes with colored contact lenses. Here’s a pic: What’s sad is the fact that she believed she needed to darken her face to pay homage to anyone African as if she weren’t dark enough to do so in her own black/brown/gold/next-year-she’ll-be-white skin. The fact that she’s still whoring herself for L’Oreal after this mess: shows me that Bey is about making money for Bey, not making a difference for anyone else.

  • African Mami

    @ S-Touch,

    I am insulted to think that these idiots think that chocolate equals African. We come in all shades too. My feelings stem out of their ignorance! There is nothing wrong with being a dark-skinned sister, but there is something wrong with insinuating that her original color was not African enough. As an entertainer, I don’t care how much puppetized they are, they owe it to themselves to become culturally aware of images or people or places they are going to represent.

  • African Mami

    The so called “vision” you talk of blew over peoples head! The vision should have been better put, especially as I’ve said before, paying homage to a LEGEND. Nonsense on their part!

  • African Mami

    @ Tomi,

    My sister,

    I fully understand your point but I disagree with it based on the subtelities of this image.

  • Allie

    I think it’s fine, not blackface (as it’s not an exaggerated, pejorative-for-laughs portrayal of blacks), and not that big of a deal. And true – African women come in all kinds of beautiful shades, but unfortunately, colorism persists and advertisers seem to still place greater value/focus on lighter-skinned women.

    For that reason, I think the darkening of her skin was an effort to highlight the persistent nature of beauty beyond simple color (hence the gradient), and I think it’s fine – quite nice, in fact. I understand that a woman doesn’t have to be dark-skinned or have non-Anglo features to be celebrated as an African queen, but…if Charlize Theron (who’s South Africa born and bred) had been chosen for the cover, dressed up, and labeled as such, I expect there would have been some serious blowback.

  • isolde

    Except there is no malevolent, racist history of white face, now is there? You can’t just ignore centuries of historical context when it suits you. FAIL!

  • sunshyne84

    yea they should’ve have only captured the face if that’s all they were going to paint

  • cherbear

    Meh. This doesn’t bother me. It’s random but here today, forgotten tomorrow.

    As they say, All press is good press. Just look at Kanye. This will boost Beyonce into the public’s eye once more.

    I’m over the blackface thing. In this context I see it as art not racism. That’s just me though.

  • cherbear

    Beyonce is not “far too light.” She is the colour she is due to genetics . Hell, I get a few shades lighter in the cooler months. Are all Black people with Beyonce’s skin tone too light? What is “too light”? This type of thinking fuels the light skin dark skin debate.

    I think a lot of people are reading into this photoshoot too much. It’s just one magazine’s artist expression and chance to get people looking and talking.

    Everyone is looking, freaking out and talking. I’m sure the exec’s at the magazine are laughing all the way to the bank.

  • cherbear

    Agreed!! You can’t make Black folks happy. I don’t understand why Black ppl always have to find something to complain about. lol

  • Soul Touch

    I sure can because I don’t think people are using it in it’s appropriate context, which my opinion is the biggest insult. Blackface is not some simple thing, the fact that people throwing it around all willy nilly just shows how disconnected we are from our history. Thank you very much.

  • Soul Touch

    I’m sorry, but I thought that most of the pics were of Beyonce in her own natural complexion? So then…would that make “all”…no. Like you said, Africans come in all shades…the pictures came in different variety. So… But thank you for your opinion on my opinion.

  • Soul Touch

    As in beauty, “art” is subjective…and you are entitled to dislike it. But you can’t tell another how to express their own vision.

  • cherbear

    People like to get their blood pressure up over nothing. I agree. It’s simply a high fashion artistic piece.

    Beyonce is not an idiot. I’m sure if people met her and had a conversation they would realize just how smart she is. You don’t make and retain millions from stupidity.

    Gosh, it’s beyond me why people are freaking out. This is not blackface.

  • Soul Touch

    Now, if you want a minstrel show…let’s talk Martin and Tylers’ need to portray the fat black woman shucking and jiving mammy images enforcing stereotypes,.

  • isolde

    “I sure can”

    @Soul Touch

    Not if you want to be taken seriously, you can’t (ignore the fact that there is no malevolent, racist history of whiteface comparable to that of blackface).
    “I don’t think people are using it in it’s appropriate context, which my opinion is the biggest insult. Blackface is not some simple thing, the fact that people throwing it around all willy nilly just shows how disconnected we are from our history. Thank you very much.”

    You’re welcome, but it doesn’t matter what message the magazine was striving to convey or whether or not, the context fits into a narrow definition of what you consider to be blackface. The images evoke a racist history, regardless of intent. History doesn’t just disappear simply when you want it to.

    Remember the Tyra Banks “Bi-racial” girl ANTM shoot? Like you, Tyra was also certain that she knew what blackface was, and it was never her intention to offend by painting her models to imitate color and ethnicity, but the images still evoked blackface and cultural appropriation, none the less, and she was shamed into apologizing. I wouldn’t even be surprised to hear that no one on Tyra’s team questioned the concept of the bi-racial shoot because Tyra’s black, and since she said it was cool, then it must have been ok. So, this idea that it can’t be blackface unless you intend for it to be blackface, is bogus. People are often racist without ever intending to be so.

  • Soul Touch

    luv, you don’t have to like or agree with my opinion…but it is still my opinion and I’m sure I am not the only one who shares that opinion. It is not blackface. I tend to be a bit sensitive of negative portrayal (ie blackface) and I did not see it here. I may not like the vision of artistic expression but the two are not one in the same. Blackface is the portrayal of a negative stereotype or “dandified coon”…an act that cements and proliferates racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide is blackface. It is exploitation. If she had a gold grill, pregnant, with a toothy mammy grin would be blackface. In my opinion, anyone who knows about our history in respect would know the obvious difference. And I think it’s sad that people are so disconnected that they throw things around so easily.

    Now, thank you once again for giving your opinion on my opinion.

  • Soul Touch

    Now, a prime example, to me, of a minstrel show/black face would be these madea/martin movies of mammies shucking and jiving. Why? The portray exactly what defines blackface/minstrel shows – negative portrayals and stereotypes.

  • ceecee

    poor Bey…she can’t win.

  • isolde

    Blackface is the portrayal of a negative stereotype or “dandified coon”…an act that cements and proliferates racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide is blackface

    I think that anyone who would make the analogy that I initially replied under is disconnected. Your definition of blackface is based mostly on intent and allows for cultural/racial appropriation as long as it’s not “stereotypically negative,” (i.e. gold teeth, pregnant, gang signs, etc.) but the stereotype doesn’t necessarily have to be negative or a “dandified coon” for it to be blackface.

    There are plenty of examples of people painting themselves or taping their eyes back to appropriate race and ethnicity in the mainstream media. Applying bronzer to Ava Gardner so she could portray the character of Julie LaVerne (a mixed race, black woman) in the film adaptation of Show Boat doesn’t make it any less of an example of blackface because the character wasn’t negatively stereotypical. The Charlie Chan detective books were written in part to provide an alternative to the Yellow Peril stereotype, but that doesn’t change the fact that Warner Oland (a white man, heavily made up to “look Chinese,”) was in yellow-face when shooting the TV show. Beyonce may not be intentionally playing a negative stereotype but she is portraying a stereotype just the same. The idea is that she needed to be darkened up in one/some of the pics to play “African” in some type of homage, and yes, that is blackface.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i think she could win if she would stop playing the fool.

  • jazzythoughts

    If caucasian women can receive pressure from their peers and/or society (by their own misguided mechanations) either indirectly or directly persuaded that “blondes have more fun” then I don’t expect Beyonce will know any better than Michael Jackson (may his soul rest in peace). This may be a true to heart preference of theirs or a misguided atempt to assimilate into a race that for so long has dominated even our image of god. I cannot judge anyone, I recognize that our perception of beauty is subject to the culture with the most capital/power; consider the influence that China will have as they grow in power and how that will change our perception of beauty unless they too have fetishsized ” the lily white concept”

  • Chantale Sterling

    I definitely agree with this point of view. As much as I want to harp on about the hurtful and dangerous legacy of oppressing blacks, through propaganda like blackface, I can’t help but look at this with a blasé sigh. Beyoncé is a business, with a capital B! I am sure that we can all be in agreement that we as women with African roots (no matter if our ancestors were brought here or not, or if we are of mixed, but of African descent) would definitely accept Beyoncé’s current skin shade as representative of a woman of African descent, because we are all not ignorant enough to think that light skin equals Non-African (at least, I would sincerely hope so!). What matters, though, is that Beyoncé had a choice in the matter and CHOSE to depict herself this way. FOR A REASON. I cannot be sure of it, but I’m starting to believe that she is gradually trying to become the ‘origin-less-exotic’ international icon she set out to be, while in the process trying more and more to separate herself from her black identity, INTENTIONALLY, for personal and business gain.
    Disclaimer: Though I, like many others, am consistently disgusted by Be’s self-serving business ploys, I, like many others, will still admit, Beyoncé/Sasha Fierce is still one of the TOP entertainers of our day, despite the critics. Her work ethic is that of a machine’s. And I don’t think I’m going to be putting down my ‘I Am…Sasha Fierce’ album anytime soon!

  • boo

    I actually think its kind of an awesome F*** you to the people saying crap like “beyonce is too white looking”.

    also its artsy, maybe its supposed to make people think and reexamine issues surrounding color that are still very much an issue in society

  • Jasmine Muhammad

    This is foolish. She is not in blackface. She just isn’t. Granted, while I don’t understand why she agreed to it for the simple fact that it just doesn’t suit her and doesn’t seem that appealing this is still not an accurate representation of what we historically know blackface to be. If her face was literally painted with the color black and if they ever threw some white around her lips, then and only then we can talk and address the issue.

    That is not the case here. I’m so tired of all of these sensationalized stories about blackface. Even with Will.I.Am’s look some months ago. Was it blackface? No. Did he look a plain mess? Yes.

    If they’re going for some sort of artistic angle, that’s their prerogative. Just let it be. There are other, more constructive and pressing areas where we could and should be focusing our energy when it comes to racial matters.

  • MrUniteUs

    She looks more beautiful with darker skin.

    This is not the derogatory “blackface” white and Jewish performers
    used. See Al Jolson with and without the blackface.

  • Zamantungwa van Poetrypotion

    what is it with the French and Blackface!!!

    African Queens come in all shades – even lighter than Beyonce for that matter!

    word to the wise – darkening your face doesn’t make you more African. i don’t know where Beyonce’s head was at in this matter but this is an insult to Femi Kuti and all Africans (Diaspora included)


  • Zamantungwa van Poetrypotion

    this may not be a typical blackface but it is definitely a jibe, in the name of art, at black people everywhere. i’m sure it’s not lost on the magazine that Beyonce’s image is always catching flack for being made lighter and lighter. i’m sure that if they wanted to represent an African Queen there were many other ways to do without resorting to darkening her face.

  • Soul Touch

    WHAT stereotype is she playing? In those examples it was people playing others of different races PORTRAYING acts that are stereotypical to that race. WHAT stereotype is she playing? What act is she showing us that is a stereotype, slanderous or otherwise to darker-skinned women?

    Sorry, we are going to have to agree to disagree.

  • Soul Touch

    I agree Jasmine.

  • Me

    I’m going to need Beyonce to stop allowing any company/industry compromise her complexion.

  • Nadell

    there’s no rhyme or reason……
    i guess naomi campbell, janelle monae, kerry washington, or alek wek wasn’t in their consideration?

  • isolde

    “WHAT stereotype is she playing?”

    I already explained that, and so did others on this thread. “The idea is that she needed to be darkened up in one/some of the pics to play “African” in some type of homage, and yes, that is blackface (and a stereotype . . . that one needs to be darkened to be African).”


    “In those examples it was people playing others of different races PORTRAYING acts that are stereotypical to that race.”

    There was nothing stereotypical about Julie LaVerne. So, no, Ava Gardner was not playing a “stereotypical” black character. First you were saying that the Beyonce shoot wasn’t blackface because there was no racist intent, just “changing faces”. Then it wasn’t blackface because it didn’t fit into the confines of what you consider to be negatively stereotypical, but now you seem to think that Beyonce can’t be in blackface simply because she’s black.

    You can be black and be in blackface. See Bert Williams

    This is the model Sasha Gaye Hunt

    This is the model Sasha Gaye Hunt in blackface

    And again, refer to the Tyra “bi-racial” girl ANTM shoot example. Racism/blackface/ cultural appropriation were not Tyra’s intention, but nevertheless, she crossed that line. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone intended to offend. The practice itself evokes a racist history. The team that arranged the i-D shoot with Gaye-Hunt may not have had the slightest intention of referencing blackface (though I doubt it), but the photo evokes it none the less. The exact same could be said of the Beyonce shoot.

    *waits for you to say . . . but but but, Gaye-Hunt has on pink lipstick*

  • DeePDX

    I call this a case of celebrity bias than race bias. There are infinitely more black models/actresses/artists that could have been chosen to do this, however it’s just mainstream media dictating what is more special.

  • ChoCho

    I’m not so sure about the the painting of her face, but looking at the video, the other outfits were great, WITHOUT the painted face…I do agree with the others that other models who have a darker complexion would be a better choice, for artistry’s sake…but then, the French have always been known for fashion… *shrugs*

  • Nikesha

    Right now it seems we pile on Beyonce words of lessons needed to be said, discussed, and debated long ago in history classes. As Black History Month winds down there are still a few days left to teach lessons not so P.C. yet oh so true. There is still time left to discuss the relevance of the cakewalk. How it began with slaves imitating the formality of their Master by infusing some humor into what should’ve been the waltz. This was then transformed into a piece within a minstrel show where Blacks mocking Whites were mocked by Whites dressed up as Blacks mocking Whites. (Keep up with me now.)

    There is still time to discuss the relevance of minstrel shows to Black culture. What we all too often debase is just as often forgotten as serving as the launching pad for many Black careers. As minstrelsy was replaced by vaudeville we saw the emergence of stars oft heralded such as Josephine Baker and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. As vaudeville and its chitlin’ circuit gave way to the Harlem Renaissance we saw Black character’s in theatre take shape, take on depth, take on a human arc capable of emoting and not just wide smiling, capable of training and not just shucking and jiving, capable of grace and not just hoofing.

    As much as we look back on our burnt cork past with disgust or even hatred we cannot refuse to acknowledge how it has shaped the Black existence we are now privileged to enjoy. That includes Beyonce donning blackface for a magazine spread because she can and not because she must.

  • Miss Jae

    I agree! I think that Janelle Monae would have an awesome model, but she wouldn’t have sold as many copies as Bey…It all boils down to the money!

  • Clarity Jane

    I don’t understand why they needed to blacken Beyonce’s face in order for her to represent an African Queen… there’s no logic to this brief because Beyonce is already African. African Queens came in many different shades her being a Darker shade doesn’t make her any more African…I’ve never seen anything more ridiculous and then to say it was in association with honouring Fela Kuti is even more of an Insult.

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  • mia

    I’ve often suspected she might be a bit clueless… this might prove it. How could she not know that would be offensive? I can see how a French magazine would mistake it as chic. But every African American with a working knowledge of US history should have understood the ramifications of doing something like this. smh

  • t. price

    you know whats funny? the fact that people are “outraged” at this still shows that people are not comfortable with dark skinned tones. Blackface was meant to demean and insult black people by making them reject and hate their own skin. this was supposed to be shown as a beautiful piece of work to highlight how beautiful these shades of skin color can be. instead it was turned into something negative by the press and its a shame. no one took the time to think about the fact this was a positive shoot in honor of a person of color. and instead of sticking to one skin tone, it tried to show another. not in a demeaning way, not in a mocking way, but in a positive and uplifting way. think for yourselves people. try and see something other than the view of the author and the media.

  • Gail Sidney

    What is it about the french and blackface? This isn’t the first time they’ve done this isht and they have to know how offensive it is.

    Really France? Its so disapointing in light of the rich african american history of black expats that they continue to debase the culture this way. I wouldn’t visit France if you paid me.

  • L’Officiel mode

    Thanks for the post !

    L’OFFICIEL is very proud to present its March issue featuring Beyoncé in African-inspired dresses and jewelry by top designers, including Gucci, Azzedine Alaia, Fendi, Pucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Rodarte, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier and Lanvin. Designer Tina Knowles, who is also Beyoncé’s mother, created a one of a kind couture piece. The designs are all reflective of the African influence on fashion this season. Miss Knowles poses with royal allure. A queen, a goddess, Beyoncé is a bombshell beauty with a divine voice. We’re thrilled she’s opening a season of celebrating the 90th anniversary of L’Officiel de la Mode. The series was conceived as using art and fashion in paying homage to African queens.

    Beyoncé mentioned the artist Fela Kuti in the interview as one of her musical inspirations. It was later misquoted as the inspiration for the shoot. We would like to clarify that it is not the case. As for the artistic makeup, the inspiration came from several African rituals during which paint is used on the face. We find the images beautiful and inspiring.

    L’Officiel would like to thank Beyoncé for her outstanding contribution to this celebration of African influences in Fashion.

  • Evelyn

    From Alex Haley’s “Roots”, page 45-

    “…Even Binta, along with every other female in the village over 12 rains old, was nightly boiling and then cooling a broth of freshly pounded fudano leaves in which she soaked her feet- and the pale palms of her hands- to an inky blackness. When Kunta asked his mother why, she told him to run along. So he asked his father, who told him, ‘The more blackness a woman has, the more beautiful she is.’”

    It is only in the context of slavery and our attempt to assimilate to American standards of beauty that our blackness has become a bad thing.

  • Jori

    I think we have gotten too “PC” in this country. Everything does not have to have some deeper meaning. It was a fashion shoot. Period.

  • Ms. Diva

    I’m a big fan of Beyonce but that photo is whack. Especially since the rest of her body doesn’t match her face. I really think they should have used an actual African Model. I mean really. Those pics do nothing for her, the magazine or anybody else. #PhotoshootFAIL

  • African Mami

    @ L’Officiel mode,

    Hi there!

    “the series was conceived as using art and fashion in paying homage to African queens.”

    As an African queen, I felt insulted by this particular shot! Your defense of it comes from an artistic point of view. My criticism of it comes from the subliminal messages your magazine is sending us. By blackening her face, it seemed as if you were alluding to the fact that queens from Africa are all chocolate, which is not the case. We come in all shades of the beautiful black color.

    There were many cultural oversights on this particular shot, and I would urge your team to do due diligence in adhering to cultural sensitive matters! Otherwise you just lost a potential customer of your magazine.

    Yours Truly,
    African Mami.

  • Tasha T

    If they wanted to celebrate darker skin color, then use someone who has naturally darker skin (Alek Wek, etc) — or better yet, show a continuum of celebrities/models in various shades of black skin. The French are not very sensitive to American and world-wide black culture, so I am not surprised that they did this — I’m surprised that Beyonce agreed to it. What’s sad is that anyone sees any form of “black face” as honoring anything.

  • Kris

    Beyonce can not win!! I hope she doesn’t even waste her time reading half of these post or articles. If she lived her life based on how everyone else wanted her to live, look, etc.,she probably would be a lost cause! You cannot make most black ppl happy, I swear the majority complain about every GODDAMN thing. I mean damn, she can’t gain weight or lose weight, she can’t color her hair, get a tan, lose her tan, have white friends, pose for a magazine…..I mean damn give it a rest. Her job is to entertain us. If you’re not entertained keep ya shyt moving.

    @Lena -Who in the hell is really dissecting her pictures to see if she had a nose job?? That seems a little insane. Do you know how many woman (black/white/Asian/Latino) have nose jobs!! Even in her case I don’t think she had neither, but if she did who the F**K cares I mean really? I mean you really took a lot of time out of your day to find and post links and shyt to prove a mute point. Does thinking Beyonce wants to be white make you feel better about yourself?

    How many of you honestly think she chose to have her face painted BROWN to intentionally disrespect Africans or African Americans? I mean honestly, do you really think that was her intent? Maybe she did it to show that, hey you can be an African Queen my complexion or darker… Either way we’re all beautiful.

    You have these Black comedians that do all types of degrading shyt and NO ONE bothers to give it a second thought. I bet if Dave Chapelle did a skit with a “blackface” everyone would be crackin the hell up.

    These Entertainers are not here to make people feel comfortable about themselves. If your insecure about your race, creed or color, then that’s something YOU have to deal with. Don’t go looking for Beyonce to make your feel better about yourself!

  • isolde

    “There were many cultural oversights on this particular shot, and I would urge your team to do due diligence in adhering to cultural sensitive matters! Otherwise you just lost a potential customer of your magazine.”

    @African Mami


    Notice that there were no specifics regarding the specific origin of the supposed “African rituals” involving black/brown face paint in this corny PR response. I also couldn’t help but notice that this shoot was supposedly done in appreciation of Africa, with African inspired clothing, and yet NONE of the designers included were actually from the continent. (Like Tina Knowles would’ve been included had she not been Beyonce’s mother) It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if I walked through the offices of L’Officiel and noticed a lack of blacks, the color of Beyonce’s painted face or otherwise, as editors, staff writers, stylists, etc. We all know the woes concerning black representation and employment in US fashion publishing and modeling. Is the industry somehow more diverse in France? (Um, no.) “Oh, but it’s an homage. It’s beautiful.” Yeah, it’s always an homage and beautiful, except when they’re hiring.

  • African Mami

    @ Kris.

    These Entertainers are not here to make people feel comfortable about themselves. If your insecure about your race, creed or color, then that’s something YOU have to deal with. Don’t go looking for Beyonce to make your feel better about yourself!

    This African queen was not looking for Beyonce’s acknowledgement. I was simply looking for her to show cultural discernment and knowledge. Sorry!

  • Abbie Brown

    I doubt Beyonce had any intention to offend anybody, but she still looks stupid with the dark make up on. It just doesn’t make sense to have a woman who is already black to put make up on to make her appear darker. Maybe a head shot would have made more sense, or, better yet, a woman with actual dark skin!

  • Evanka.W

    It is not as if beyonce is portraying something negative or a stereotypical view… she didn’t paint her face darker and sit in front the camera with a bucket of chicken… in fact i think the idea was the opposite… the shoot was meant to celebrate african queens… which come in many shades… i’m sure they could have gotten models or other celebs from all different shades but maybe they just wanted beyonce… because they chose to paint her face to express the different shades of beauty is wrong??

  • African Mami

    @ Evanka,

    Whether it was her intent or not, there are negative cultural intonations. She should have researched before agreeing to take L’Officel’s directions. Plain and simple.

  • Evanka Williamson

    forever walking on eggshells and over analyzing in unnecessary cases like this keep negative culture intonations alive

  • t. price

    Again this is not blackface. It is in no way demeaning or degrading to black women. And the fact that they chose to paint her face a color that is deemed as “ugly” by many should show that they’re intentions were to highlight and celebrate the color in a good way. plus the magazine has commented that the photo shoot wasn’t in honor of a particular person, it was just the theme they decided to go with for the shoot. so we were mistaken. either way i think they are gorgeous pictures

  • isolde

    “forever walking on eggshells and over analyzing in unnecessary cases like this keep negative culture intonations alive”


    No. Discriminatory hiring practices, a lack of diversity and representation in the mainstream media/fashion industry keep negative cultural intonations alive. I do not understand this attitude that some of you have that racism in the fashion industry is so much of an afterthought, that people, particularly black people, shouldn’t be so sensitive, or walk on eggshells, or over analyze editorials that dabble in historically racist tropes. We are talking about the fashion industry, right? You know, the one where everyone is always complaining about how black models struggle to get love and how you can’t count the number of black editors at fashion magazines on one hand? Did you miss the part where none of designers included in the L’Officiel spread, supposedly honoring Africa, were actually from the continent? I totally understand how such an industry wouldn’t deserve the side-eye when playing with blackface (sarcasm).

  • serenissima

    i dont think this was intentionally racist or harmful, just someone thinking it was a bright idea and a new, creative way to showcase ‘Blackness’ and ‘African Queens,’ but i dont understand why they did only her face and not the rest of her body. that would have had an even greater impact towards the point of the photo story, if you ask me. and as others have pointed out, i get the whole ‘Black Is Beautiful’ thing, but, if thats the case, why not use a dark-skinned model? what is the point of using Beyonce? to sell magazines, thats why…

  • Kris

    This article speaks volumes.. So get over it, it’s really not that serious!

  • Sarah

    For reals. I mean, god, we’re black, so we should accept whatever shite is thrown our way and settle for the back of the bus. Speak sista!

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  • Agence hotesses evenementiel Paris

    As much as we look back on our burnt cork past with disgust or even hatred we cannot refuse to acknowledge how it has shaped the Black existence we are now privileged to enjoy. That includes Beyonce donning blackface for a magazine spread because she can and not because she must.

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  • Marta

    Perhaps the whole photo shoot is not meant to be interpreted that deep and originates from an artistic perspective. Beyonce has her own look and at times there are comments that she is of a lighter skin tone as she has an assortment of ancestral contributions of varying degrees of complexion, Native American , French, African American etc.She is dressed from another period in time, this was customary at the time, someone suggested “lets do this” and eureka. A very beautiful photo session. Beyonce knocks it out of the park. It is because of her little of this, it makes her, HER.

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