Before we begin I want to ask you to bow your head, close your eyes, and repeat after me,
“Culture is not a costume.”
One more time for the people in the back:
“Culture is not a costume.”
I want you to say it loud enough so that in a few months when Halloween rolls around and one of your homegirls decides she wants to be a Native American ( I don’t care if she is part Cherokee, Blackfoot, Cree..whatever), that you remember that you yourself declared loudly and with full conviction that culture is not a costume. Cuz far too many of y’all dragged me for filth after I published THIS article on the subject last year.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about about LA based Makeup Artist, @PaintdaFace, who posted this photo over the weekend:
The photo has since been deleted, but thankfully the girl’s in my facebook makeup group always come through with the screenshots. Paindatface, knowing this photo would be controversial, issued this disclaimer in the caption:
I want to clearly express the sincere place I am coming from with this transformation. As an artist and visionary, I can become bored of the ‘glam’ and done-up looks that we find all over social media, my page included. I struggle to remain challenged, and as a result of that, my posts have become more manufactured than authentic.
“This is a transformation that I’ve been holding back from releasing for a while now, solely because of the fear I’ve had of people turning it into a racial scandal against me. THIS IS NOT ABOUT A RACE CHANGE. This is about one woman acknowledging, embracing, and celebrating the beauty of another woman’s culture. I believe we live in a society nowadays that seeks any reason to stomp around town with a picket stick in their hand, fighting ABOUT something, rather than FOR something (and yes, there is a difference!).
“I didn’t want this to become another reason to stir up negativity. This is, by far, the proudest I’ve ever been of my work and I’m so fortunate to have created it with @annathorsell, who trusted my vision from the very beginning.”
After publishing this photo, Paindatface was dragged straight to hell and back all up and through the comment section:
These were the only comments I could grab before Paindatface deleted this post and then made his profile private.
His profile is now public again, but he is unapologetic:
The transformation that I recently posted of a woman transformed into a woman of another culture has been highly criticized by those who don’t understand the message. I deleted the post, not because I had regret or saw wrongdoing, but because of the negativity social media turned it into. It’s been assumed by most that my intentions were to transform my model into a black woman. Truth is, my intentions were to keep the look vague enough to be relatable to many women of different cultures, but the true inspiration of the overall look came from my Cuban heritage. Although I am saddened by how many people are angered, I can’t offer an apology for my artwork and for what I find to be beautiful. The transformation came from a place of love and was not about mocking one’s race, but rather about celebrating it. I am so proud to be illustrating a woman representing several cultures along with their achievements, beliefs and histories. Art is interpreted differently by all and sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but making this world a better place starts with our mindset – thinking positive, showing love and practicing unity.
Here’s my translation of the statement above:
Sorry, but I’m not sorry. Y’all are doing the most. The model looked really pretty with her face painted brown and wearing a headscarf. I’m not even White, I’m Cuban (even though Cuban isn’t a race), but we do come in all colors. I wanted my model to look like a beautiful Cubana, even though I didn’t really pull that off. So what I did a shit job with this transformation? So what I didn’t even bother to have the girl’s hands match her face? So what, that collectively black and brown and even white folks have told me that this transformation doesn’t honor anybody? So what? I don’t care. Y’all can stay mad. #bloop
I know that the people reading this post probably don’t need a lesson in why this makeup artist’s work is offensive, but just in case, here’s the long and short of it.
Blackface is blackface, no matter how pretty you make it.
Is simply a modern version of this:
Although the latter was created to intentionally insult and degrade black people, the hurt is so deep, the stigma so great, that anything even hinting at it today will be viewed in the same way. One cannot change history with an IG pic and filter.
That’s all folks. Share your thoughts below!