Love Daria. But after taking a second glance at the model’s latest steamy spread for Interview Magazine, we can totally see why it’s raising a few eyebrows — not that that’s a rarity in the fashion industry. But the problem, as our friends over at Refinery 29 astutely observed, isn’t merely the Mikael Jansson-lensed editorial’s sexualized take. Rather, as they write: “From the differences in their dress (Daria’s in ethereal, angel-like gowns, the others are in knits and leathers) to their body language, the whole spread has a rather racist vibe.” Gorgeousness aside, we can’t say we disagree.
A closer look at the images forces the question of what it means for a white model “to get lost” in a swarthy sea of anonymous late-night revelers. More, Daria is unquestionably the camera’s focus while the accompanying cast of ethno-clad black models — all of whom the editorial fails to credit — are forced into the background. One commenter on Live Journal wrote, “The models surrounding Daria look like ‘blackcessories'”, while another added, “[They look like] they’re just props.”
For our part, we’ll tread lightly between culturally insensitive and fashionably controversial, pointing out that there is actually another white female model in the spread. But maybe even more troubling is that an editorial like this hammers home a point Andre Leon Talley has made about a lack of diversity in viewpoints and voices industry wide. Simply put, there aren’t enough checks and balances and so statements like these (intentional or not) can be made in a hegemonic vacuum.
But if we take away anything, it’s that we don’t have to accept it, and today there are more opportunities for us — as active consumers of culture — to critique, question, and hopefully open up a larger discussion about our representations.