Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Queen of the Jungle or Tarzan's Side Piece?

As I mentioned in the previous post, one of the more shameful things about this month's Vogue Italia is the lack of black models featured in the ads. There is a multi-page Pinko ad featuring Naomi, a Quodlibet advertisement with Sessilee alongside two other models, and an ad by lingerie and swimwear retailer Yamamay (they're like the Italian Victoria's Secret.) Of the three, the Yamamay ad is definitely the most...interesting.

First of all, it's a swimwear ad so there's a lot of eye-catching baby oiled flesh to be had. Secondly, the model in the ad is dark-skinned, and lastly her bikini has that animal print thing going on.

I know I talk a lot about animal print on this blog and it might give you in impression that I hate it but I don't really. I have a scarves, handbags and jewelry that has various animal print themes on them. Everything in moderation right? The reason I dislike seeing black models in print wearing animal print garb is because it happens just a bit too often. I'm really beginning to think that it might be the first thing that pops into a photographer or editors mind when they see a black person.

So what's the big deal? I mean, the model is lovely with a flawless complexion. Can't a sister just hang out in a tree wearing a leopard two piece without somebody getting snippy? My answer is not really or at least not in this ad. When there are only a handful of images of black women out there, every one of them will get scrutinized. What is she wearing? How is she posing? What's her expression? The list of questions goes on from there. I've been double taking on images of black women for so long it's just second nature to me.

Honestly, if I saw tons of ads with all kinds of black and other non-white models in magazines all the time then maybe I wouldn't think twice about the really shiny lady chilling in the tree.

For the curious, below are a few more of the collection's images from the Yamamay website.


Anonymous said...

Seeing all those pictures back to back made me feel like I was driving through a human safari. I don't like that feeling at all.

model liberation said...

As pretty as they are, these are stereotypical images. It bothers me when I see our models in animal print and in the jungle. But it also bothers me when I see white models in the same setting. I almost feel like they don't belong.

sdg1844 said...

I'm not impressed and feel like that shoot was a regression. Sigh. I honestly don't get this.

ohnochriso said...

This reminds me of when the Spice Girls first hit the scene and my friend and I groaned aloud over how the one black woman was SCARY Spice and was often shown wearing some kind of animal print. It really does seem like a stylistic default for so many people and that is truly dismaying.

st said...

I've never heard of Yamamay, but it would be interesting to compare this to the lookbook/website of Intimissimi, an Italian line of lingerie that Victoria's Secret has made available in some of their stores. There's also an African safari theme for Summer 2008, but with a white model whom I believe is Russian.