Vanity Fair smartly decided to feature the undeniably fantastic Lupita Nyong’o in their upcoming February issue, capitalizing on the huge moment she’s having in the media and fangirl hearts everywhere. When they proudly tweeted a photo preview of Nyong’o’s photo spread, it took about two minutes for the internet to notice that Nyong’o’s skin was curiously different from its usual hue–it was in fact noticeably lighter than in real life. What. The. Actual. Shit.
Here’s the Vanity Fair photo:
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) January 15, 2014
Here’s Nyong’o in real life.
And here’s a smattering of responses:
— April (@ReignOfApril) January 15, 2014
— Renee Kelly PR Girl (@ReneeKellyGirl) January 15, 2014
— Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) January 15, 2014
Is this a freaking joke? Nyong’o is everywhere nowadays and a frequent guest in this year’s conversation about race and representation of non-white people in Hollywood/the media (excellently discussed here). There wasn’t really a chance that people were going to look at that photo and be like “oh yes, that is was Lupita Nyong’o looks like, because I have forgotten despite seeing her every time I open my computer or turn on my television.”
Vanity Fair will likely make the argument that it was lighting and not lightening–that is to say that instead of ordering some photoshopper to lighten Nyong’o’s skin, they’ll pretend that the light in the room blew her out. Sure–I’ll bite. Maybe the room was lit in such a way that it created that image, but why the hell would they light it that way in the first place? It’s not like they’re shooting on film and only found out days later once they got around to developing–the feedback is instant and someone in the room would have immediately been able to figure out that Nyong’o’s skin tone was completely off. In an industry where every single detail is manipulated to be perfect, it just isn’t possible that everyone fell down on the job and forgot that her skin tone was totally off. There’s just not a chance that this was an accident.
This is straight up bullshit, and shame on Vanity Fair for pulling this shit we’ve seen so all too often. To perpetuate an idea that the most flattering picture of a black actress is one where her blackness is altered is straight up racist, and if you don’t see that, then you’re frankly part of the problem. Vanity Fair is saying that Nyong’o is beautiful in spite of being black, which is racist garbage and inaccurate. Vanity Fair deserves all of the backlash coming to them, and it’s embarrassing for the world that this is something like this still happens regularly, and that despite all of the backlash, Vanity Fair will largely face no real consequences. Screw everything.
Photos: Twitter, Getty Images // [h/t Huffington Post]