We all know what happens when you see a white person in blackface.  It’s offensive as all fuck because there’s always some historical or negative stereotype that comes along with it. There’s the common consensus that it’s just not appropriate. Ever.

But what if a black person dons whiteface?

In a recent photo shoot paying tribute to white supermodels, Tyra Banks is made up in whiteface to look like Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford and Cara Jocelyn Delevingne. Not everyone was happy about the photos once they hit Buzzfeed.


Genevieve Aleta Taylor-Peters
I wonder if a white model did a “tribute” to her fellow black models if she would get shunned for using “blackface”
It’s amazing how some white people are always trying to scream “That’s Reverse Racism”.  The true atrocity with these photos is not the fact that Tyra is wearing whiteface, but the fact that the photos are horrible. I mean, the Kate Moss photo looks like “The Grudge”.  And who’s to even say Tyra was painted in white. With the magic of photography software, and the removal of filters, it’s quite possible no extra make-up was used.
But once again, there’s always that one white person who wants to yell “racism” and  life just isn’t fair since they can’t wear blackface when they feel like it!  Because racism.

Clutchettes, do you think whiteface is the same as blackface? 

  • http://twitter.com/Kenesha_W K.Nicole Williams (@Kenesha_W)

    Not racist, just stupid. Blackface is usually used to make fun of or mock blacks, this was supposed to be praising white supermodels, so yeah.. But IMO it’s just a dumb idea, which Tyra is usually good for (as I see it was her idea to do this shoot).

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikolproductions GenesiaWilliams

    I respect Tyra Banks’ hustle, but this is one more example of her doing the absolute most. Idk if ”whiteface” is offensive, but 80% of the time it’s stupid.

  • http://gravatar.com/kanyade Kanyade

    Really Tyra could’ve just added the extra bits (mole, lashes, thick brows, contouring, liner) to achieve the looks (Crawford, Cara, Kate) without the caked on foundation in funeral home #5. It is the those aspects that make the models memorable. With Kate the liner and maybe some serious contouring to achieve the shape of the face, but with Cindy the mole/hair and Cara the eyebrows and grimace, would’ve been enough…

  • Alja

    I think people need to remember there’s a difference between painting someone black and someone transforming into a black person. If the fashion models were “transforming” to look like Naomi Campbell, people would be less likely to call it “black face” vs. just slabbing paint on a person to make them a darker hue for aesthetic purposes instead of actually obtaining a black model. Tyra’s actually trying to imitate a living person — much like drag queens who embody popular artists/performers for their shows. She’s not painting herself white for the sake of painting herself white or because she lacks a white model who can do the job.

    At least that’s how I think about it. Then again, I think differently from most.

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    No, I don’t think whiteface is the same as blackface. These photos look stupid and werid. Like whiteface always is. I wonder why Tyra is always up for stupid ideas like this.

  • KG

    These are offensive because they are just plain ugly and weird. Whoever the makeup artist is, s/he did a terrible job because I can see near her hairline where the makeup stops and ends (also, in the first picture, they didn’t even paint all of her breasts). Honestly, if I was Tyra, I would just cut my losses, pay everyone involved, and throw those photos away.

  • JS

    I think the biggest problem with donning Blackface is that 99.9% of the time that its done its done in ignorance, to make fun of or to stereotype the Black race. However that goes with culture appropriation in general. A white model wanting to do a tribute to Black models and donning Blackface I wouldn’t have a problem with if the model actually took the time to investigate the history of Black models she’s paying tribute to. That means you are going to have to do more than done an afro wig with some attitude and please no prosthetics. A good example (that could be done better but still a good example) could be the cultural challenge in ANTM. Seeing those girls dress up as different cultures (african, east indian, native american, etc.) and learn a bit about the culture they are portraying was not offensive to me.

    I would be interested to know if these are real photos released by Tyra as they are all in black and white and seem super low quality. You can’t really tell she is donning whiteface. It looks like the lighting is washing her out combined with some shoddy photoshop skills.

  • naan

    No it’s not the same.

    Racism is usually supported with actual HISTORY. What is offensive to one group may not be offensive to another group because of HISTORY.

    You can say about a little white kid, “aww, he looks like George the monkey” but you can’t say the same thing about a Black kid. WHy? because of HISTORY.

    People always want to say “Well if we have to do this for one group then we have to do it for another group.” No not at all because it’s the history of that group — and the experiences that they have had is different.

    Everyone should be treated “equal” in the since of opportunity, but don’t act as if the “history” is the same.

    I remember once I was in a film class and we were watching a Spike Lee film and my teacher ranted about how it was so racist for the Wesley Snipe’s character to talk about “lasagna/spaghetti/whateverItalianfooditwas” to his Italian lover in the film. He was trying to compare it to people stereotyping Black people as liking chicken.

    WEll first of I’m not Italian so I’m not going to say “i know their history”, but in the USA I don’t recall Italian food ever being “held against” Italian-Americans. So I disagreed.

  • L

    “I mean, the Kate Moss photo looks like “The Grudge”.”

    lol Get out of my head. My thoughts exactly. Was this a tribute or was Tyra really trying to throw some shade?

  • Margaret

    Offensive? Yes, in that it was a stupid, unnecessary choice. Why not just show the original model and have Tyra mimick their style in a photo right next to it? This was just a stupid, unattractive choice.

  • Jewel

    When Robert Downey Jr was painted up to look like a black man — he wasn’t in black face. Neither was Billy Crystal when made up to look like Sammy Davis Jr. That’s cool, all good. This is like that. Whether it’s “good” work is another issue entirely.

  • Yb

    She looks stupid, and looks like a crackhead ghost. Tyra just played dress up as the thing she always wanted to be: a white woman.

    And people wear white face everyday. They wear it when they wear blonde weaves, wear light contacts, chop off their noses with rhinoplasty, and bleach their skin. White face is as old as colonization.

  • naan

    i do like the Cindy Crawford one but the other pictures looks weird and ashy. lol.

    I’m glad Tyra at a young age recognized that she was a pretty girl that could take a fierce picture and thus could make some money for herself because I can’t help but to feel she is lame and totally not fashionable outside of showing up to work. lol.

    I’ve never witness this woman “slay” anything on the red carpet, at appearances, etc, etc.

    But again, I’m glad she at least recognized she could take a good picture and make money.

    She is like a “diamond in the ruff” but a pretty diamond.

  • http://gravatar.com/yesimthatleah Yes, I’m That Leah

    I can’t stand this woman, she truly makes me sick to the bone.

  • JR

    I guess am simple but i just understood why. What is it that white bodies represent, what is this symbolic of why are we objectify color and reducing people to their skin colour

  • Joan

    Sometimes, I wonder if people lose brain cells when they become famous. I am all for risk taking, but some things are just stupid, unnecessary and extremely insensitive. In a business that is all about looks, why would a black model pay tribute to white supermodels? And she is supposed to be a former supermodel herself…the models she’s paying tribute to are not much older than her. What the hell is she doing? It’s bad enough that the fashion world seems to promote a European standard of beauty…Does Tyra Banks need to physically cosign? Smh.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kelley.johnson.75436 Kelley Johnson

    Tyra Banks is such a silly, silly woman.

  • Marisa

    They can’t stop using models in black face so at what point am I suppose to care anymore about somebody black pulling a White Chicks movie face. Folks never see anything as racist its always we blacks overreact, slavery was 150 years ago blah blah blah, so if people are offended by this SO WHAT. Just like they SO WHAT black concerns about negative images, they don’t give a damn about us, so who gives a flip about their fake nonsensical reverse racism claims. You can’t declare racism is over then claim reverse racism but they don’t hear me.

  • Huh?

    “The true atrocity with these photos is not the fact that Tyra is wearing whiteface, but the fact that the photos are horrible. I mean, the Kate Moss photo looks like “The Grudge”. ”

    On this and only this, I have to beg to differ with the writer. Kate Moss was the face (a blank one at that) of that emaciated “heroin chic” kind of modeling.

  • http://ladyngo.blogspot.com Lady Ngo

    Can’t front, that Cindy Crawford is dead on! lol. As for this being anywhere near comparable to black face, the answer is a resounding NO! Its just silly, and in some instances creepy. Aside from the Cindy Crawford pose, she just looks like she’s sick or something.

  • vintage3000

    I would be offended if I was Cindy, Kate or the other one I never heard of. These photos are nightmare-making.

  • Ms. Write

    I just think it’s weird to do any “face” other than the one you have. What’s the point? #Creepy

  • ruggie

    Tyra “became” each of these women, really interesting how this was done. Of course neither she nor the photog has the b*alls to do Naomi Campbell, the queen bee. And so it became a whiteface thing.

  • lea

    side note: secretly i hope they use this as dangers for lightening cream and skin bleaching, some people look a hotmess trying to look white.

  • Ree Pa’tri

    YES, its offensive!! Its giving a misconception that black woman want to be white! Its bad enough that dark skinned women get no recognition this is not saying “I AM PROUD TO BE A BLACK WOMEN!”

    Still love Tyra though!

  • The Other Jess

    ooohh…she looks like “White Chicks”…not a good look! lol

  • RJ

    Yes, I unfortunately am starting to come to this conclusion as well.

    It is almost as if they get so far in their head that they self destruct.

  • Lola289

    I think she’s just showing versatility as a model.
    They do it all the time to us. Tyra’s doing it w/ a little more class!

  • kaybee

    White face..Black face..it’s the same to me! Tyra should have left her skin the exact same and just made the pix blk and white. SMH.

  • GlowBelle

    Actually Clutch got half the story….Tyra did a tribute to 15 models, three of the 15 she posed as are of color — Grace Jones, Iman and herself at 15. Though I find Tyra problematic in many ways, I do appreciate her for breaking barriers in the ’90s…but it speaks volumes that out of 15 models she chose only three of color models to show icon status. Where is Beverly Johnson? Pat Cleveland? Naomi Sims? Her friend/foe, Naomi Campbell? Even an insider like Tyra to the fashion game has trouble coming up with models of color (or chose not to. I don’t know how Tyra’s mind works…and don’t want to know). I think Tyra unknowingly opened up a can of worms, it’s almost like she’s saying with these photos, ‘yeah, this is what you do to us (blackface) so why not flip the script? Don’t you see how stupid it looks?’ I don’t know if Tyra is that witty to think this (I doubt), but she actually touched on racism in the fashion world with this idea. In the end she could have done this without the whiteface makeup, everyone would’ve known she was Cindy with a mole or Cara with the eyebrows and grimace, easily.

    And ‘whiteface’ never was and never will be a thing, blackface has history tied to it, degrading and disgusting history which is why it’ll never be okay. ‘Whiteface’ doesn’t have those racial mockings or exclusions attached to it. All this uproar is just the tables being turned and white folks getting butthurt over it. Too bad, so sad. Plus this whiteface/black model look isn’t new. Look no further than the great Grace Jones for doing a white face photo back in the day. Pat Cleveland even did a whiteface Snow White photo. Google them. I wonder if people got in an uproar back then over those photos…

  • Jalesa Montez

    Actually the link giving information about the photoshoot is included in the post..

    Teach a man to click a link…

  • BlackBeauty

    She looks like crap and is photo-shopped to the extreme.

  • cees

    I was thinking LaToya Jackson more than Cindy Crawford!

  • BeanBean

    These photos are not racist or offensive, but they are ugly. It’s got a weird Michael Jackson look to it. She didn’t even look close to Cindy Crawford.

  • fsilber

    Both are fine.

  • http://jaimejenett.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-love-letter-to-middle-class-white.html Jaime J

    No it’s not at all the same. Good lord white people are confused about racism. I wrote the post in my signature exactly b/c I’m so tired of my white brethren losing their minds over stuff like this.

  • Pepper

    “load of issues”?? Well Tyra’s a multi million dollar BUSINESS-WOMAN with issues. I know a bunch of folks with lots of issues, and they don’t have a dime!

  • chnyere

    “paying tribute to white supermodels,” what? why is that necessary? And it is just as offensive, she is dressed up as a race that is not her own and if that race finds it offensive, then it is !! smh

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I am going to need Miss Ty-Ty to stop…lol because the pictures aren’t flattering. But to compare white face to black face is utterly ridiculous and willingly feigning to be dumb. White face does not whole any of the complexities and feelings that black face holds/harbor. I swear some white people want to be offended so bad and want to use racism that they fail every single time. But I do agree with others that you shouldn’t have to change your skin to pay tribute to others!

  • http://gravatar.com/designdiva40 paintgurl40

    Or use the winners from all those antms or whatever that show is called to mimick the style of those famous models?

  • Lisa

    Tyra is already light-skinned add a little lighting and she looks white. BOOM! there is is calm down White America

  • NotWhiteNotBlackYouAsshole

    Bunch of assholes. Each and every one of you.

  • http://gravatar.com/dorisjean23 dorisjean23J

    Tyra’s “whiteface” doesn’t work.Many African Americans have very light skin. Blackface to whites means donning an Afro wig with black shoeshine and a ridiculous white ring around the mouth.

  • Pseudonym


    When white people dress up in blackface, they don’t act like Barack Obama, Oprah, Michael Jackson, or other normal, non-offensive black people. They act like Sambos, thugs, and other offensive memes, THAT’S what’s wrong with blackface. The paint on the face would be no prob if people acted like normal respectable black people (eg. just scream “Everyone gets a car!!!!” or “hehe” a-la MJ), but they don’t- they act like jacksses and in that ignorant “act” they are trying to make certain insulting and racist implication about all black/brown/etc. people which is not cool.

  • http://gravatar.com/mandatoryfield mandatoryfield

    “the Kate Moss photo looks like “The Grudge”.

    Spot on about that picture but the Crawford pictures are gorgeous.

    I disagree that blackface is always offensive. The problem with blackface is that it is rarely used correctly. As pseudonym points out there are ways in which it can be done that is not about stereotyping and demeaning. And is done as an homage.

    Quite frankly that is what’s wrong with this article. Tyra’s “whiteface” is not offensive precisely because it is an homage. She is not attempting depict all white people and she is not depicting anyone in a negative light.

  • http://twitter.com/Nathiest Nate Blank (@Nathiest)

    Julianne Hough used a dark copper tone make up to pull off her Crazy Eyes look she was not painted in black.

    In reply to your “And who’s to even say Tyra was painted in white.”

    Also the way you say “Some white person”? Seems a bit racist to me.

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