UPN’s America’s Next Top Model recently offended many of its viewers. The fashion shoot of the past week related to the touchy issue of race and featured the want to-be models dressed as other ethnicities to demonstrate the power of make-up in “Got Milk?” ads.
Many found it reminiscent of black face and, particularly offensive were the white models featured as black women.
“Although it wasn’t as obviously offensive as black face, it definitely had subtle similarities. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be as deep as a lot of people could take it, but I was slightly offended by all the races that were put up there, but particularly the black portrayals because they weren’t realistic,” said Spelman senior political science student June Jones. “Why did the black girls need to have afros and Erykah Badu looking head wraps to portray blackness in this day and age?”
Hearing Tyra Banks, the show’s host, applaud one of the models for accurately portraying the black woman was striking. A comment to Banks from one of the models, Brittany, describing herself as “a black girl with a nose job”, as if to imply that all black women have large noses was equally striking.
Still some found other aspects disturbing.
“The only part that made me mad was that they made someone bi-racial as if there’s one look for that and as if being mixed with black and white is the default mix. There are two mixed models on the show and neither one of them looks like that. That is just such a broad spectrum to try and cover but I guess that can be said for all of the portrayals,” said Howard junior print journalism student Khalea Fields.
Interestingly, the photographs from this week’s show were not featured in the gallery as they were from previous shows. Also, none of the black models were made to depict white women.
Brooke Fortson, a Howard senior psychology student, did not find the actual photo shoot to be offensive. “I saw it as beautiful art. I actually think they did a good job of picking certain features that were representative of the races and not necessarily stereotypical and did a good job of going beyond black and white,” Fortson said.
Other races and ethnicities featured included Korean, Native American, Eskimo, Italian, Afghan and other European representations.