Tyra Banks has put her signature touch on New York Fashion Week, or rather, she’s adopted that of her iconic colleagues of years past.
The America’s Next Top Model boss paid tribute to Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss with a photoshoot in which she re-creates classic and recognizable poses from each legendary supermodel. She also poses as newcomer Cara Delevigne in a separate photo.
“I’ve put my own spin on #NYFW w/a photo tribute to some of the fiercest #SuperModels ever. Unretouched. Real. Raw,” Banks tweeted over the weekend.
The 39-year-old underwent total physical transformations for 15 black and white photos for the Udo Spreitzenbarth-shot Tyra Banks Presents: 15.
According to the photographer’s website, the series is meant to capture “the likeness of her colleagues to address the powerful nature of these well-known symbols, while reminding them that ‘imitation is the sincerely form of flattery.”
The shots are pretty impressive, but have naturally resulted in some controversy. We say “naturally,” because really, what doesn’t ruffle someone’s feathers these days? Crusaders for social justice took to Twitter in droves to put Tyra Banks on blast, accusing her of this year’s favorite human offense… racism.
“Wait, so blackface is not cool but whiteface is?” wrote one user. Another said, “I wonder if a white model did a ‘tribute’ to her fellow black models if she would get shunned for using ‘blackface.'”
Callie Beusman of Jezebel accurately summarized why this line of criticism is bonkers:
“Whiteface has no historical relevance. In a society that constantly affirms white privilege and power, painting one’s face white (in seriousness or in jest) doesn’t have the same negative connotations and fraught history as painting one’s face black. The power dynamics are not the same.”
I’m going with the girls on this one.
Check out Tyra Banks’ “whiteface” photos below, and let us know what you think!