Since yesterday its seems that everyone including the media for the most part has been up in arms over Illamasqua’s new ad campaign for this Christmas. What seems to be all the fuss? Well, just take one look at the ad campaign.
With the tagline “I’m NOT Dreaming of a White Christmas” the ad depicts the same model on each side. On the left side the model is literally white from head to toe sans the lips which are a bright red. It’s completely monochromatic. On the right side the same model is from head to toe in black sans the lips which are a pale pink color. Seems harmless enough except for the fact that the model, in many people’s opinion, is depicting the “blackface” or minstrel which in American history was a derogatory depiction of African Americans.
To make the situation worse, it seems that some people who want to add fuel to the fire, have taken the two halves of the photo and layered them one over the other (a very simple task performed in Photoshop or Corel) and it appears that the model’s lips in the right picture may have been enhanced. But who’s to say for sure?
“We thank and acknowledge your comments regarding the above image. Obviously it was never our intention to cause offence; Illamasqua has always celebrated the right to self-expression and we continually push creative and artistic boundaries, priding ourselves on working with models of many ethnic backgrounds to reinforce this point. Alex Box, Illamasqua’s Creative Director, has emphasised that this campaign is about colour ON the skin, not colour OF the skin, depicting polarity between the two images (both images are the same model) not race.” Illamasqua on their Australian brand’s Facebook page
What a lot of people may not have taken into consideration when they ad was released is the fact that Illamasqua is not an American company but a European company and that their culture and history is significantly different than that of Americans. What we may find derogatory may not mean the same for them. The photographer Alex Box is known for looking at makeup and its artistry in a different way that may seem unconventional to some. The picture depicts white and black, two total opposite colors of the spectrum. It does not get any more basic than that. If the company had used a model with the same makeup on in both pictures in say a full body suit and curved towards each other in a ying-yang position would the backlash still be the same? Or is that we, as Americans are overly sensitive and want to find the wrong in everything?
A lot of the backlash from the ad though is not coming from African Americans but Caucasians. Now shouldn’t it be the opposite? If African Americans see the photo as art and a fashion statement then why should anyone else be offended? Or could it be simply that this country still carries a guilt trip over its mistreatment of minorities in the past?
Or could it be just simply a very smart marketing ploy? Up until today I personally had not heard of the company let alone its past history or the photographer and today its everywhere.