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.
“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.