Controversial blackface makeup ad is incredibly racist!

Honestly, what the heck was cosmetics company Illamasqua thinking when they came up with their new blackface and whiteface makeup ad? The new ad (pictured here) that was created to promote the London brand's new holiday collection, features the same model posed in all white and in all black makeup with a slogan that says, "NOT dreaming of a white Christmas." spotted the photograph that was highly criticized on Illamasqua's Australian Facebook page. According to the site, the model's extremely darkened complexion, big, light lips and top hat instantly resembles the theatrical makeup performers used in minstrel shows during the 19th century. The reason this makeup is so offensive is because it was originally created and used to portray a stereotypical and exaggerated portrait of a black person. Can you see now why this has caused so much outrage? Now why would anyone think this would be a good promotional idea?


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The highly insensitive ad quickly started an uproar, resulting in racist accusations flooding Illamasqua's Facebook and Pinterest pages. The brand eventually removed the ad from their page and posted the following statement regarding the controversy:

"We thank and acknowledge your comments regarding the above image. Obviously it was never our intention to cause offense; Illamasqua has always celebrated the right to self-expression and we continually push creative and artistic boundaries, priding ourselves on working with models of many ethnic backgrounds to reinforce this point. Alex Box, Illamasqua's Creative Director has emphasized that this campaign is about colour ON the skin, not Colour OF the skin, depicting polarity between the two images (both images are the same model) not race."

Regardless of the intentions behind it, this was clearly not a wise move. And as a beauty writer and consumer, I honestly don't see how this ad would entice me (or anyone for that matter) to want to buy this makeup. Creative or not, there's absolutely nothing appealing about either one of these looks. And between the pale lips and top hat, it's very hard for me to believe that Illamasqua wasn't aware of the obvious resemblance this ad has to "blackface makeup."

I have to say I am rather disappointed in Illamasqua. I always saw them as a brand that was progressive and that embraced diversity. Their products usually come in a very wide variety of shades and believe me when I tell you, their cream blushes look great on all skin tones (including my caramel-tan complexion)! But this terribly awful advertisement proves that the brand still has a lot to learn when it comes to racial sensitivity.

Image via Illamasqua Australia

What do you think of Ilamasqua's blackface makeup ad?

Topics: beauty  makeup


What do you think of Ilamasqua's blackface makeup ad?

on Nov 28, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Wow, I'm surprised they would run an ad like that. I can understand their defense that it was the same model for both photos. However, the obvious contrast between both looks can be depicted as racial, especially how they accentuated fuller lips on the black face compared to the white face. I don't see how this ad promoted their makeup at all. The only makeup seen is the lips and light blush on the cheeks.
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on Dec 1, 2012 at 2:48 PM

I understand where people are coming from, but the picture itself is beautiful in my opinion. As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity and they find themselves the topic of discussion. I would say their mission is accomplished. 

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