Some are alarmed that Rihanna's skin is painted black in her new video, "Rockstar 101," but frankly, it doesn't seem like anything to get worked up about.
Fashion shoots in which white models are painted with darker skin — see here, here, here here, here or here for instance — can come off as offensive for several reasons: It's reminiscent of blackface. And if the magazine editors or photographer wanted dark skin, why didn't they hire a black model? It's well known that black models are underrepresented in mainstream fashion magazines. In addition, a white model painted black in order to in order to make a shoot concept edgier or more interesting is also troubling. Doing so implies that dark-skinned people are somehow more wild, more unpredictable, more mysterious — the very definition of exoticization. Romanticizing a skin tone means ignoring the reality; assigning a stereotype — the savage, the monstrous creature who cannot be tamed — to a person because of their color.