For Numéro France’s March issue, Sebastian Kim photographed white model Ondria Hardin with darkened skin in an editorial called “African Queen.” Unsurprisingly, it pissed off a lot of people.
Numéro has since released a statement on its Facebook page apologizing and explaining its decision to create and publish this story. Let’s go over some of the main points, shall we?
“The artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim, author of this editorial, is in line with his previous photographic creations, which insist on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based discrimination.”
“Numéro Magazine considers that it has regularly demonstrated its deep attachment to the promotion of different skin-colored models.”
It then goes on to say that Fernando Cabral will cover the next issue of Numéro Homme, while Naomi Campbell currently covers Numéro Russia’s first issue.
“[Our current black covers stars] 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.”
Maybe we’re missing something but, this press release-disguised-as-an-apology-letter doesn’t seem to be doing much apologizing. Numéro justifies darkening the skin of a white model and calling her ‘African’ by saying that it represents the ‘melting’ of cultures, and that it’s okay because the magazine sometimes uses women of color. It’s kind of the equivalent of I-have-black-friends-therefore-I-can’t-be-racist. Well, I’m not sold.
Here are two important stats from French Numéro.
Number of non-white model covers: 3 of 141 (2.1%)
Number of non-white model editorial spots in the last three years: 15 of 270 (5.6%)
Just so we’re clear, according to Numéro, to be considered a diverse magazine only 5.6% of your models must be non-white. A “deep attachment to the promotion of different skin-colored models” means that only 2.1% of your cover models have to be non-white. Thanks for clearing that up, Numéro.
What’s your take? Do you accept Numero‘s apology or do you think it’s all talk? Sound off in the comments.