This Donna Karan ad features a light-skinned model in the foreground, sitting in the back of a pickup truck, wearing neutral-toned clothing and a large statement necklace sitting. In the background are two black models, wearing clothing that is not meant to be featured in the ad. The light-skinned model is fully in focus, looking directly into the camera with a challenging stare. Conversely, one of the black models looks beyond the frame, while the other looks at the light-skinned model, and both are in the shadows, out of the picture’s focusThe ad boasts, “Photographed in Haiti. Discover the beauty and inspiration”.
Does the physical positioning of the models have any significance? Do you think race played a conscious role in the models’ positioning?
Why does the ad place such importance on the fact that it was photographed in Haiti? What cultural purpose might this be meant to serve?
Presumably, the ad is meant to be “inspired” by Haitian culture. Do you think this type of cultural appropriation is positive, negative or neutral?
This ad might be seen as perpetuating a harmful tendency in fashion advertisements, in which black and African American models are used primarily as “props” for the featured white models. Critics contend that, whether or not these placements are intentional or subconscious, they promote an ethos of racial superiority and should be avoided.