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It's 2019 and Pakistan's fashion industry still thinks it's okay to use blackface

It's 2019 and Pakistan's fashion industry still thinks it's okay to use blackface

Nabila Salon's latest editorial is a prime example of cultural misappropriation
Updated 30 Jul, 2019

A few pictures started doing the rounds on social media recently from a shoot by Nabila's Salon.

The photographs taken by Umair Nasir Bilal for an editorial of Hello Mag are of LSA nominated model, Zara Abid; the shots are striking, vibrant, and VERY aesthetically pleasing. Then what's the problem?

Zara Abid is a powerhouse of talent. She's attractive, yes. She's got a gorgeous tan, yes.

How about we try not to throw political correctness and basic human decency out the window just for an editorial?
How about we try not to throw political correctness and basic human decency out the window just for an editorial?

But she's not a black woman and that's the problem.

Nabila's photo shoot is a prime example of cultural appropriation also termed as cultural misappropriation.

Cultural appropriation refers to the borrowing of elements of one culture by members of another, it can prove to be particularly offensive if members of a dominant group appropriate from disenfranchised groups.

In a society that is obsessed with fair skin, slip-ups like this only fuel a regressive mindset. It's borderline insulting to pick up a fair-skinned model and paint her to look dark rather than give naturally dark-skinned models a chance.

Also read: How NOT to be offensive as you shoot your next fashion campaign

What could've been a shoot challenging stereotypes is instead now a sad reminder of how we as people of colour still don't get how racism works, and of how dark-skinned talent is still consistently underutilised and sidelined even in projects that claim to celebrate their skin tone.

Tell us you see why painting the skin like this is absurd
Tell us you see why painting the skin like this is absurd

And this is not the first time Pakistani artists have engaged in cultural appropriation: photographer Alee Hassan, designer Ali Xeeshan and Sanam Jung are a few names that come to mind.

There's a line between appropriation and inspiration so how about we try not to throw political correctness and basic human decency out the window just for an editorial?

Comments

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Rubina Jul 25, 2019 08:36pm
Instead of hiring mercury injected fair models. They could gave taken natural brown and dark beauties from Sindh, Punjab, KPK, Balochistan. That would give them exotic look the fashionista seek, boost confidence and also reduce this colonial brit white complex , fairness creams selling like hot cakes in our society.
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Shahid Jul 25, 2019 09:36pm
It looks beautiful. Why painting white is always ok and not when painting dark brown.
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Anon Jul 25, 2019 10:14pm
Stop criticising everything from Western standards.
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Kamran Jul 25, 2019 11:22pm
My question is that Why is the one eye symbol becoming so popular in our fashion/entertainment industry??? I guess we need some people who still have the capacity to think...
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Ahsan Jul 26, 2019 12:51am
The idea of appropriating a culture comes from exploitation of said culture by a dominant culture. How is it relevant in Pakistan? If you want to point out a problem, please first understand that problem. Pakistan is a country which is classist in regards to color, not racist. Our racism is not marked by color, since all involved races have sufficient diversity of color. The problem is more akin to whitening your skin but in the other direction. It can perhaps even be a good thing, I don't know, but it definitely isn't the moral problem your staff has blindly appropriated from a dominant culture.
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Chris Roberts Jul 26, 2019 02:43am
Only a Black person would really understand the implications of black face and how hurtful and demeaning it is. Slavery, ill-treatment, derision, discrimination, and exclusion to this very day are part of the Black experience. People who work in advertising should be sensitive to this. There is nothing positive in coming across as being racist and incapable or unwilling to put yourself in the other's shoes. Recruiting a Black model would hace been the thing to do.
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Farhana Farooq Jul 26, 2019 01:09pm
The rest of the world is already moving away from the trend of getting offended by every small thing and of taking political correctness to extremes, you should get with the times too, don't copy everything from the West. Pakistan does not have any problem of racism, not do we have a history of slavery of any race. What we do have is an obsession with fair complexion and such shoots can actually decrease the problem.
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Sabir Jul 26, 2019 04:14pm
Go back to blogging on tumblr. "Blackface" is a fake american problem. These burger bacchas and their irrelevant lefty politics are out of control.
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