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Using "black" makeup

Discussion in 'Art and design' started by mt83, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. mt83

    mt83 New commenter

    I wanted some advice on an issue here.

    I am an art teacher and one of my students (light skinned) wishes to paint their face and torso with black makeup, wear a feathered headress and have photos taken as an "African Warrior" in a public area of the school.

    Would this be considered offensive or possibly even racist? Does it make a difference if they are intending to be beautiful?

    I feel that this may even be helping to dispel cultural stereotypes, by showing the warrior as beautiful.

    Please advise
  2. Hi,

    I think there are two points to be made here about what your student is planning to do and what I think you might want to consider in regards to it.

    The first is that, although they may have no intention of being racist, by painting their face and claiming to be mimicking an 'African' they will be doing something that is going to be offensive. I feel you should strongly encourage the student not to do this in any way. It is highly offensive.

    Have you encouraged the student to research traditional African tribal warrior attire?

    This is one way you can promote equality and diversity by getting the learner to understand and identify what makes up the various looks of traditional Maasai or Zulu warriors outfits. Or even research warriors from around the world? Why can't they dress as a modern solider to make the same statement?

    I say this because the term 'feathered headdress' invokes an image in my mind of something more native American than African. If it is something akin to this then that is going to be a double whammy of offence and certainly should also be discouraged.

    I'm not sure of the level of the learners you are working with but I would perhaps encourage the making of any warrior attire (as this in itself can be celebrated as beautiful) and maybe, if they really must, posing in it but not with any makeup but that is still a little ambiguous and would advise against it.

    I would be interested to hear what your thoughts (or anyone else's) are in regards to these suggestions.
  3. One useful tool I used in one of my lessons recently was this: www.youtube.com/watch

    It?s a video of beauty thought the ages. You may find it useful.

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