Say What: White Model Poses as a African Queen in Fashion Editorial [Photos]

Rucuss staffFebruary 27, 2013

A French magazine couldn’t find a black model that suited its needs, so it decided to use a 16-year old white female to pose as a ‘African Queen’ for a controversial photo spread.

Ondria Hardin, whose five-foot-10, posed for a fashion spread for Numéro Magazine painted head to toe in brown makeup. In the images she wears a tall cloth headdress, layered silver jewelry, and dusty prints. The images immediately caused outrage online.

An African-American model commented on Facebook, “beautiful girl but there are beautiful African women whom could have been place with in this editorial.” Another person wrote, “They really couldn’t find a black model? RIDICULOUS!”

A white editor at Jezebel wrote:

It’s impossible to look at this and not ache for young women of color who want to pursue careers in modeling  (and arguably, fashion by extension). When they don’t see themselves on the runway or in magazines, it could be very easy for them to think, “huh, I guess  modeling isn’t for me.” Then the status quo remains, and the runways remain monotone. If jobs for “African Queen” photo spreads aren’t going to black women, what hope is there?

Ondria Hardin for Numero Magazine

Ondria Hardin poses as an African Queen


This isn’t the first time the magazine has done this. Back in 2010, they dressed white model Constance Jablonski up in an afro wig and slightly darker makeup, to portray a black mother in a spread titled, “Independent Woman.”

But this time around, the magazine issued an apology. Numero emailed the Huffington Post:

“For its part, Numéro Magazine, which has the utmost respect for this photographer’s creative work, firmly excludes that the latest may have had, at any moment, the intention to hurt readers’ sensitivity, whatever their origin.

Numéro Magazine considers that it has regularly demonstrated its deep attachment to the promotion of different skin-colored models. For instance, the next issue of Numéro for Man on sale on 15th march has the black model Fernando Cabral on the cover page, and the current Russian edition’s cover of our magazine features the black model Naomi Campbell on its cover. This demonstrates the completely inappropriate nature of the accusations made against our magazine, deeply committed to the respect for differences, tolerance and more generally to non-discrimination.

Considering the turmoil caused by this publication, the Management of Numéro Magazine would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this editorial.”

Do you accept their apology?


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