GAO Effect

http://www.allaboutmodels.tv/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Grace-Gao-.tiff.jpgShe's from Jiang Su province in China and started modeling less than a year ago. I think she is beautiful - reminiscent of actress Shu Qi or a more conventional Feifei. More importantly though is this “Pan-Ethnic” vibe I am getting.

I love when a model is able to transform easily from one ethnicity to another Ashton Kutcher, Pop Chips Videowithout such effects that can be construed as racist.

For example: Former model Ashton Kucher made a commercial that was described as racist because he appeared as a Southeast Indian {complete with darker  complexion]. So why was his commercial considered racist?

Sum it up to the legacy of white supremacy. America’s continuing legacy of racism and bigotry means that individuals of Western European descent have basically painted themselves into a corner so that even a commercial as allegedly innocent and benign as an ad for potato chips can spark such controversy. Well judge for yourself:Video Restored

Ashton Kucher Video:

So when is a model portraying another ethnicity NOT considered racist? I can’t speak for everyone on the planet and I certainly can’t speak for people who just don’t “Get It.”

For me models who are mixed with an ethnicity that could conceivably already make them a “Person of Color” get a pass.
For example: Helena Christensen who is Dutch and Peruvian is one of my Favorite models [She is now considered retired and pursuing her photography career.]
Christensen would often go from:


The bottom line is that Christensen’s ethnic make-up meant that even without the 7080481647_06ba1b77a4_m addition of cosmetics as in the two darker photos above, she could achieve an indigenous appearance naturally or even digitally like in this piece from my art portfolio. Yep that’s Helena Christensen from her younger days as a model. No additional makeup added just some photo-manipulation by SantosDesignStudio.

However a model doesn’t necessarily have to possess an ethnicity that is indigenous to people of color if she is able to pull off the same effect.
Who was able to do this? Who else but my eternal favorite Gia Carangi:

Gia Carangi’s ethnicity was Italian, Irish, and Welsh. Her Italian roots gave her complexion a Mediteranean hue, and richness and her Irish and Welsh roots increased Gia’s beauty exponentially.

I don’t perceive these depictions as racist [Gia's complexion darkened via photo-manipulation]. Besides Gia could have done almost anything [Except take drugs and die a premature death or be a member of the KKK] and it would have been fine by me.

Who shouldn’t pose as a person of color?

I like her but Lara Stone shouldn't, not only because she looks like a white woman in black-face.


But also because it is too reminiscent of this:


For something not to be considered racist, we must not be able to interpret it as such. When I Googled Lara Stone, the image above should not have also appeared and don't believe that Lara's makeup artist had NO Idea or that the photographer had NO idea oif the image they were evoking. This is the insidious nature of Racism.

Therefore if humor is used like in the Kucher ad, then a Southeast Indian should have poked fun at himself. We don’t need Ashton Kucher to portray a Bollywood Producer. We don't need Caucasians to portray people of color period. That went out of style with D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation."

White people, the majority of you have had centuries to portray people of color and you haven’t been nice about it, so back the F%&! off and we will portray ourselves from now on.

Conversely  Grace Gao portrayed as black isn’t offensive because we all should be aware http://www.supermodels.nl/ModelPics/gracegao/123.jpgof the migratory paths of the first humans and that there is an Afri-Asian connection [re: Peking Man and Javaman], that makes Grace Gao: A "Sistah."

See what I mean?
Any Questions?

Technorati Tags: Race,ethnicity,Grace Gao,Helena Christensen,Gia Carangi,Ashton Kucher. anthropology,Africa,China


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