Beyonce…Too Black?


By Huda Heidi Kattan

I personally don’t even know why this is even an issue, but apparently pop-super-star, Beyonce Knowles has pissed of a bunch of people for, well..being too black. In a recent photoshoot for L’Officiel Beyonce paid tribute to a Nigerian human rights activist, who was actually the inspiration behind her newest album that is still in the works. For the photoshoot Beyonce embraced the woman’s African traditional clothing and yes, in one of the photos she darkened her skin. What seemed to be a beautiful piece of work has actually caused so much controversy and critique about the whether or not the photoshoot was in fact offensive–what do you guys think? Should Beyonce keep to her own skin, even for the love of art?


26 Responses to “Beyonce…Too Black?”

  1. I’m amazed that skin colour still is an issue ANYwhere!!
    We need to move on from this and embrace that we all look different… We are all just human beings, and shouldnt take the whole “look-thing” so seriously, but have fun with it instead:)
    Love T

  2. 2 nailah

    Y is it tht wen beyonce’s skin has been fotoshopped 2 luk lighter 4 the Loreal ads its not such a big deal? Isn’t that double standards?

  3. 3 namariq

    how is that offensive??!! first of all its art second thing don’t they realize that Beonce is black how would she want to offence her own race ??!!

  4. 4 Zainab

    It isn’t about her skin being too dark. It has to do with the fact that ‘blackface’ was practiced in the 1800s during slavery as a means of saying, “See, black people love being slaves and working on the plantation.” It is basically a caricature of African-American people, and perpetuates stereotypes such as fuller lips, and things such as a happy-go-lucky attitude . I understand why it is controversial, because one has to understand that sensitivities aren’t the same everywhere, Black Americans will always be sensitive to slavery (rightfully so, because they weren’t brought to America on vacation, they were forced here and as a result, there origins and thus identity are to some extent unknown) and the effects of slavery still very much exist throughout the country. Basically, if a white person did this the backlash would be astounding (it has happened recently) so I don’t see who Beyonce thinks she is in getting away with it. If you google Harry Connick Jnr and blackface he explains well.

    • 5 naila

      So this piece has actually been used to promote or has been named ‘blackface’?! :O (I dint actually know the sensitivities around the subject)

  5. 6 nadia shaheen

    hey great blog huda, i find you soo pretty so i finally decided to join in on ur website and keep up to date with what you have to say. good job so far please keep me update with your beauty tips xxx

  6. I have to admit I was kinda shocked when I first saw the images but then again they explained that the darker face makeup is a kind of beauty ritual they do in Africa so i don’t see where the big deal is!

  7. 8 Mary Monroe

    I don’t think it should matter when it comes to art… she obviously has a reason for doing it and there is a meaning behind it. So if she chooses to do something knowing why it shouldn’t be offensive to anyone.

  8. @ Zainab. I understand what you’re saying, and yes, it would be offensive or comedic if she wasn’t in fact, a black woman herself. All she has done here is darken her skin tone. Which makes a nice change from the photoshoots and videos in which they lighten her skin.

    • 10 Zainab

      Being black doesn’t give you the go-ahead, no one should do it. I don’t agree at all with any sort of double standard. Also saying that she is celebrating
      her ‘African’ culture is insulting, because African people come in all shades. If being African means having darker skin, 60% of my family isn’t African. African isn’t a shade, it’s a culture and a spirit.

  9. “No one should do it”…well if you say so, then it must be true!

    I agree, and never said skin colour equates culture. I still don’t think it’s offensive, within in this particular context. She looks beautiful.

  10. I’ve seen this picture posted in so many places and have ignored it till because I thought it was much ado about nothing but now seeing your post Im not so sure-please excuse the long comment 🙂

    @Zainab hit the nail on the head. It’s offensive to a lot of Africans as well as black people in general because it’s pointless. What is artistic about ‘blackface’? I guess black models should start using whiteface- photo-shopping lighter skin is completely different from this although a lot of people do take umbrage at it because again its pointless and shows that even in this day and age the media continues to push that ‘lighter is better’.

    Africans come in ALL different shades and colors including white. She was playing tribute to Fela who was much more than a human rights activist-musical creative genius… I could understand if the picture was supposed to be stepping outside the box/she used the type of makeup that his wives/dancers used but this just seems irrelevant and done purely for the heck of it. Try google images for Felas dancers and there you see some artistry.

    It also appears to have confused some people since some commentary have mis-interpreted Beys look to be in tribute to the African woman she was paying tribute to. smh @ media and its stereotypical propaganda..sadly a lot of people including Africans buy into the myths that are being perpetrated.

    • 13 JR

      Models of all nationalities and cultures have worn Geisha make-up. Is this also offensive?

      • 14 Zainab

        #1: White people have never been enslaved
        #2: White “skin” is by many (mentally enslaved) people viewed as the ‘ideal’ and Asia, hence Geishas, in particular is obsessed with whiter skin. I have a friend who won’t leave the house without an umbrella because she doesn’t want to be ‘burnt’. Burnt=dark skin; dark skin=not sought after (unless you are off Jersey Shore)
        I’m tired of defending my opinion, Beyonce should stick to what she knows, dancing around in a leotard.
        #3: If they wanted dark skin, there are tons of gorgeous dark models, no one needs to be painted!
        #4: Comparing Geisha’s to blackface is like asking, “when does the red light turn green.” Geisha’s are painting to become ‘beautiful’ and blackface is done to ‘humiliate’.
        #5: People that don’t understand what am saying, most likely have never lived in the US for extended periods. Blackface is ignorance and I wouldn’t have understood years sgo either, but reality is VERY different.

  11. 15 JR

    “I’m tired of defending my opinion” This is beyond pompous.

    I don’t agree with #1. I’m from a country that was enslaved by another country for hundreds of years.

    I can’t have a conversation with someone who makes sweeping assumptions. I do however, agree with # 3, wholeheartedly and understand your point.

    • 16 Zainab

      Have a good day, J.R.! ;P

      • 17 JR

        Same to you, Zainab!

  12. 18 hadil walid

    at first glance I thought that was kate moss!!!

  13. 19 jan

    if you have never been a black person and american (or black in general bc the issues are worldwide), it is really not for you to understand why it is offensive or why a “big deal” is being made.

    that’s like an middle eastern woman saying well i don’t understand why someone jewish would be offended by a woman that is jewish that appears in an art piece with numbers etched on her skin completely disregarding the holocaust…

    you will never understand the complexities of being a black person if you are not in fact black so it’s kind of insulting to say what black people should or should not be sensitive to imo. it really does not impact you in any way so it is understandable that you dont understand.

    as a black woman in the post 9/11 era, i will never be able to tell someone middle eastern that they are being hypersensitive for being offended when americans mistreat them in airports bc i will never understand what that experience is like.

    i think it would be safe to focus on beauty and hair unless exploring issues is truly a topic huda wants to delve into.

    that said, zainab i agree.

  14. 20 jan

    also, zainab
    was incorrect (wrong in a few things stated) in her assumption that whites have never been enslaved (because they obviously have historically even before african descendants were in america) that’s just not the truth. the unique thing about americans is that we enslaved african people and completely removed the culture creating a subculture we now know as african americans. there have been other collectives of people (of all colors) that have done the same to any and all people all around the globe, but america did it on such a broad scale that it still plays an imperative part of systematic oppression today, but beyonce was wrong and i am sure she knew that when she did it. i dont think being in the wrong after much thought stopped her from doing it though, so her fans will continue to support her. kudos.

  15. 21 renren

    To Zaineb, and i know this blog is an old subject…however.White people, and people of all races have been slaves in history. Look into greek and roman and andalusian history. Slavery wasn’t just in african history. I agree with JR’s comments. I mean, in africa alot of women are exposed to western media and they literally BLEACH their skin everyday to appeal to men. Beyonce is just showing that darker skin is beautiful. Race isn’t just African, there are SO many different races. I think the main problem here is that western media puts so much sensitivity (or american media to be precise) on the black race issue everything is politically incorrect so that everything becomes racist. To be racist means to portray a race as beneath your own or to be intolerant or prejudice to another race. Beyonce does NONE of that. Everybody needs to chill with this hypersensitivity

    • 22 naila

      My point xactly I don’t understand why no1 asks why is beyonce lightening her skin for certain magazine covers or ads. Surely her lightening her skin is also offensive?

  16. 23 Atmost

    Huda – when you paint the faces of Arab women, does that become an issue? Just because it is Beyonce – it becomes an issue. May people come to realize that beauty is skin deep.

  17. 24 Alaina ScanDoll

    I have no issue with the skin darkening for the photo shoot, especially if it is BEYONCE herself who wanted to darken her skin to honor her inspiration. This is only an issue because because Beyonce is known for being a lighter skinned black woman. If you take out the lighter skin and people are all of a sudden amazed that she’s actually black. This is such a shame because you really see the bias behind it.

    People lighten black model’s skin all the time with photoshop and no one complains, but make someone darker and they say she should stick to her natural skin tone.


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