Way back in April Taylor sent in a link to a post at Media Assassin about some interesting depictions of Black women in a couple of ads. This one is for Lord and Taylor:
Apparently the Black woman just can’t control her naughty self.
The rest of the post is not safe for work–the first image mildly so, the second one definitely not safe.
A screenshot from an Old Navy TV commercial, in which the Black model’s dress is torn off to show how in-demand the dresses are:
A United Colors of Benetton ad from the 1980s:
About that ad, Benetton says,
Two images of the campaign for equality between black and white caused the strong reaction of the black community in the US: that of a black woman breastfeeding a white baby – which represents the most-awarded image in Benetton’s advertising history – and one featuring two male hands, one black, one white, handcuffed together.
Yes. I can really see how an image of a Black woman’s bare breast as she nurses a White baby would increase equality between the races. Because there’s no history of Black women caring for and nursing White children in a context of exploitation and…oh, wait. Right.
A recent ad for Michael Kors, sent in by Captain Crab:
In another post, Media Assassin quotes Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, author of Skin Deep, Spirit Strong: The Black Female Body in American Culture:
Images of Black women that are in fact “national, racial, and historical hallucinations” have been ingrained into the collective conscience of the United States since slavery. Black women have been depicted as either naked, generally in an ethnographic context, or as laborers, usually domestic, their social status playing a crucial role in the development of visual identity. With rare exceptions, representations of the Black woman in art and photography have followed these prescribed lines. (p. 182)
There are, of course, ads and other images that do not depict Black women in this manner, but it’s curious that we continue to see so many that do. For another discussion of the ways non-White women are often portrayed, check out Reading National Geographic by Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins.
[Apparently there was a problem with these links, but they're fixed now.] Also check out our posts on vintage Jezebel-themed products, Black women portrayed as animals, Black women tending White women, and images of Condoleeza Rice.