There’s nothing wrong with the Gigi Hadid Vogue cover, but people take offense and call it cultural appropriation – society has to get over this or it’s going to do harm, conservative TV & radio host Steve Malzberg told RT.
The fashion world is embroiled in another racism scandal after the cover of Vogue Italy featuring super model Gigi Hadid sparked widespread criticism, as some say she is unrecognizable in the picture.
On social media, people pointed out that Hadid’s skin, hair, and facial features were Photoshopped to appear darker than they really are. Others argue that the photo is a piece of art and there’s nothing racist about it.
Gigi Hadid and Vogue Italy have both apologized, saying the photo wasn’t meant to offend anyone as they were trying to create a beach look with a stylized bronzing effect.
RT: There is a very strong reaction to a fashion magazine cover; does the cover look offensive, as some people on the internet say? Or it is just too much Photoshopping?
Steve Malzberg: I guess it depends what perspective you are coming from. It offended a lot of people, obviously. Here you have a beautiful blue-eyed blonde model, one of the top models in the world, and they put some bronze on her, they Photoshop the picture. You could say she looks black or African-American, she looks bronze to me. But this is a whole big issue now, where people take offense and they call it “cultural appropriation.” In other words, “You are stealing their culture.”
This is constant manipulation of what has been going on over and over again. People simply had enough of being manipulated when it comes to using campaigns from an emotional perspective and really tapping into people’s emotions and using it for all different reasons. When you see this kind of thing happening – just like H&M campaign – they don’t realize that it affects the emotions of people. You’ve got a lot of young black girls growing up and they feel like they need to change themselves, they need to change the way that they dress, they need to change the way that their skin color is. It really has a big effect across the world on a lot of young girls of different nationalities and races as well. – Kevin Bennett, Models of Diversity spokesperson
What we have to understand is this photographer, Steve Klein, has worked with her before and he is one of the top photographers and this is what he does. He does this kind of thing. This is out there. This isn’t something brand new. And it is not the first time that Gigi has been criticized for a shoot that she did with Vogue Italia. Back in 2015, she also was a little bit bronze and she wore what they call African wigs in the photo shoot. This is art. What has people angry at its core, and what Gigi mentioned in her apology, is that if you want a dark-skinned woman, if you want a black woman, then use a dark-skinned model or black model. Don’t take a white model and bronze her and Photoshop her. But I don’t think that there is any reason for Gigi to apologize. She is a model, she doesn’t have artistic control, she didn’t know exactly what they are going to do, she didn’t know she would be offending a bunch of people. I see nothing wrong with the shoot. I think people are too sensitive. And I think it is getting out of hand. Political correctness is getting out of hand.
RT: So is this really a racial issue? There are surely much worse examples outside fashion.
SM: Yes, there is a lot wrong in the society… In Utah, in the US, a high school senior bought a dress, she thought it was her dream dress, she loved it, it was beautiful. It was red, it was an Asian-Chinese looking dress, it was a Chinese dress, she wore it and people took offense. Again, they came up with this term again – cultural appropriation. And people said, this represents Chinese culture, how dare a white girl wear this. It is out of hand.
There is a lot of very famous models of color that they could have used. And the situation is that they always are trying to Photoshop somebody to look different. But it doesn’t enhance, it actually takes away. It happens in Hollywood also, in movies, when you have movies that are based in Egypt and they use white actors instead of Egyptian actors. I think it has a very bad representation. – Oliver Morris, photographer
And let me bring it to the entertainment industry on another level. Recently, Kanye West, the singer, rapper, and mogul, has come under fire because he has indicated some support for Donald Trump. He wore a Make America Great Again hat. So, he has come under all kinds of fire. Because as Kanye West says, “if you are black, you are not supposed to support Donald Trump.” He has got threats. And Snoop Dogg, another big famous rapper in this country, just recently posted on Instagram a picture of Kanye West, who is black, with a kind of a white face to “insult him.” So, it is really out of hand. And we have to get over this in our society or it is going to do very much harm…What they are doing to Kanye West is reverse racism.
RT: It’s becoming more and more often that magazines, fashion brands have to apologize for ‘inappropriate’ covers, clothes. Is it that they don’t know the limits or is something wrong with society?
SM: In this country, I think it goes to groups like Black Lives Matter. I think, eight years of Barack Obama, which was supposed to bring this country together, I think we are more racially divided than ever before. I think Barack Obama is responsible for that. I think his Attorney General Eric Holder, who is also African-American, is responsible for that. Many people say that his justice department only cared about white against black crime, they didn’t care about black against white crime. I just think that instead of uniting us, Barack Obama did a whole lot to divide us along racial lines. And I think we are seeing the extension of that today.