After spending time in Africa, Boglarka Balogh, a Hungarian journalist, wanted share the beauty of the continent and its diverse people. While she could have gone about it in any number of ways–snapping photographs, making a film, documenting her experience on social media–Balogh chose a completely different path: digital black face.
Balogh worked with a graphic designer to darken her skin, change her hair texture, and don the traditional garb of seven different African ethnic groups to “raise awareness of their secluded cultures.”
“I became fully aware of the issues regarding a number of endangered tribes, and the speed at which they are fading away,” she explained. “These stunning portraits show how beauty varies across the globe and prove that all of us are beautiful in a different way. They’re celebrating stunning tribal beauties at the brink of extinction.”
While Balogh’s goal may have been admirable, photoshopping herself to look “African” was a terrible, terrible idea. Moreover, to assume that she alone had to do this to raise awareness about “secluded cultures”–presumably because no one else had?–was also presumptuous, wrong, and hella white.
Anthropologists, social scientists, photographers, and travelers have all documented remote cultures and people long before Balogh stumbled onto them, so this “project” does little more than center her, a privileged white woman, not the cultures she’s hoping to promote.