Last week, L’Oréal denied they had photoshopped an ad featuring Beyonce Knowles to make her skin appear lighter. Comparing the ad with any random undoctored photo that pops up when you Image Google “Beyonce Knowles” should convince you that either L’Oréal is lying through their bleached teeth, or Ms. Knowles was wearing a whole lot of the wrong shade of foundation for the shoot. Also, somehow even her blouse and hair got lighter. But the hilarity continues: Now L’Oréal is being accused of darkening the ad for Essence, a publication aimed at black readers. Well, I suppose “Black is Beautiful” is an improvement over the Brown Paper Bag Test.
An actual test, along with the so-called ruler test in common use in the the early 1900s among upper class Black American societies and families to determine if a Black person was sufficiently white to gain admittance or acceptance. If your skin was darker than a brown paper bag, you did not merit inclusion. Thousands of Black institutions including the nation’s most eminent Black fraternity — Phi Alpha Phi, Howard University, and numerous church and civic groups all practiced this discrimination.
The “all black” issue of Vogue Italia issue sold so well that Condé Nast had to print another run because stores and newsstands ran out. So why do large companies like L’Oréal still insist on treating black faces as if they’re scary primitives that need to be “tamed” into bland WASPness, lest white consumers pick up their hoopskirts and flee?
(upper image via Nikola Tamindzic)