At just 16 years old, model Ondria Hardin has already seen her fair share of scandal.
The pale-skinned model’s latest endeavor is a fashion spread for Numéro Magazine entitled “African Queen,” in which she appears painted head to toe in brown makeup. In the images she wears a tall cloth headdress, layered silver jewelry, and dusty prints.
Almost immediately, the spread inspired outrage online. An African- American model commented on Jezebel’s post about the news: “Can I see a black girl do SCANDANAVIAN PRINCESS please?” Wrote another: “Googled her name and this girl is ALABASTER,” commented another reader, adding, “Also, do I detect a hint of texturing in her hair to give her that “ethnic look,” rounding out this shitshow?”
Tumblr account foudre commented on Hardin’s controversial spread, posing the question: “Why hire a black model when you can just paint a white one?” But this isn’t the magazine’s first racial offense. In 2010, it used Caucasian model Constance Jablonski to portray an African mother in an editorial spread, complete with Afro and dark face paint, posing with a black baby in a field of wheat.
Unfortunately, increased racial diversity within the fashion industry is still an issue. According to reports, at New York Fashion Week this season, an astonishing 82 percent of models were white. Of the remaining 18 percent, only 6 percent were black. And while some design houses are trying to remedy this problem—see Miu Miu’s spring campaign video that features an entirely black cast—they are few and far between.
Why didn’t they just hire a black model…wth!?