Numéro Issues A Not-So-Apologetic Apology For Its Blackface Spread

Following up on photographer Sebastian Kim‘s statement yesterday, Numéro has issued an apology for the offensive blackface editorial that ran in its March 2013 issue. Problem is, they don’t really seem to be all that sorry at all.

The controversy began last week when blonde-haired, fair-skinned American model Ondria Hardin popped up in a Numéro spread called “African Queen” in what most perceived as blackface. Kim denied that this was the intention, citing the deeply tanned bohemian icons of 60s Marrakech like Marisa Berenson and Talitha Getty as the inspiration behind the shoot. Nonetheless, discussion is still brewing online, and the magazine has responded with an explanation of their own, effectively laying all the responsibility on the photographer.

Via Huffington Post, here is the text of the apology in full:

Some people have declared that they have been offended by the publication in Numéro magazine n°141 of March 2013, of an editorial realized by the photographer Sebastian Kim called “African Queen”, featuring the American model Ondria Hardin posing as an “African queen”, her skin painted in black.

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 has always supported the artistic freedom of the talented photographers who work with the magazine to illustrate its pages, and has not took part in the creation process of this editorial.

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.

Ok, keeping in mind this is a French magazine and there are some things that are no doubt lost in translation, this is still one of the least apologetic apologies we’ve ever read.

  • “We give our photographers artistic freedom and this one is totally into multiculturalism.” ≠ apology
  • “Look, look! Naomi Campbell! How dare you blame us!” ≠ apology
  • “We’re sorry you were offended…now can all this ‘turmoil’ be over already?” ≠ apology

What do you think? Do you accept their apology? Or do you wish they would have at least tried to sound a little bit sincere?

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