Numéro Magazine over-bronzed a 16 year old white model named Ondria Hardin to shoot an editiorial entitled ‘African Queen’. “Why hire a black model when you could just paint a white one!”

I first came across the story of this controversial editorial via and had to review it for myself. As a fashion stylist, I am well aware of the sensitivity of the ‘colour issue’ in the fashion industry.

Making a huge issue out of the race subject had not previously been a main advocacy of mine but when a fashion opportunity arises, specifically for a particular race, gender or ethnicity and industry creatives decide to forgo the most suitable candidates for a more difficult option, there is obviously an issue. I try not to make anything, let alone fashion, about race or colour but this strikes me as a bit odd.

“Why hire a black model when you could just paint a white one!”

There’s no mincing the direction of the editorial. When you read the title, all assumptions are thrown out when you see the fashion story in full. The model IS suppose to be an “African Queen” and not only that “a woman”. It baffles me why they wouldn’t just hire a black model for an editorial so specifically focused.

Honesty, it is bewilderment rather than surprise that I feel here. Especially not after the issue of Andrej Pejic being the face (and chest) of a woman’s bra campaign. I imagine many black models will feel someway about this but sadly this wont be the last of such events.


It was recently brought to my attention by fellow blogger Samiya that Numero Magazine have actually endorsed this ‘colouring’ strategy before when in 2010, the magazine used the white model Constance Jablonski for an editorial where she was painted black and sported an afro playing with a little black baby.


The fact that Numero Magazine have actually done this before makes me question their perceptions of diversity even more, regardless of their response. I don’t know that they wouldn’t try this ‘colour’ play or dare I say it “blackface” again.

What do you think of this story? It is not an issue or were Numero Magazine quite calculated with this editorial?

Read Numero Magazine’s response to this article.



  1. 26-02-2013 / 06:44

    I find that sometimes in fashion they really want to stir controversy with their shoots. There's no one in deciding to do this shoot they didn't think of the consequences that this would have. It does sadden me a bit due to the lack of diversity across entertainment as a whole. When opportunities like this come why not use a black model or at least have one in the shoot as well? 🙁

  2. 02-05-2013 / 22:39

    A real issue in the fashion industry but I think Black models need to keep doing their think. Their beauty and talent is shining through a bit more everyday, it won't be ignored forever. The face of fashion is changing with Designers, fashion editors, stylists and other fashion professionals from different ethnic minorities. We have to tell our own story… If we don't we won't see the end of the painted faces editorials .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *