Has Marie Claire ‘White Washed’ Kerry Washington?

If you aren’t familiar with the term ‘white washing’ it means when brands lighten images of black and mixed race women and/or change their features for a more ‘westernised’ look. This is evident everyday on bill boards, magazine covers, film posters even adds for makeup. Why get a women of colour to represent your beauty brand, to show you have a broad spectrum of shades presumably, then white wash her in the advert?

I do have a very low opinion of this anyway but when I received this months issue (June) of Marie Claire it really annoyed me. At a quick first glance I thought “Oh that women looks similar to Kerry Washington” That’s how different I think she looks on this cover – I didn’t recognise it was actually her. They have changed her skin tone to more of a golden hue, squared off her jaw for some reason and narrowed her lips so much that they are a totally different shape!

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I remember when I first watched Washington in Scandal and I thought it was fantastic that the makeup artist had outlinned and definned the natural shape of her pout and made a real feature of it. I know Washington is light-medium skinned rather than very dark but she doesn’t normally look like a white person who’s been working on their tan! There also seems to be a surprising amount digital noise in certain parts of the photograph, which usually indicates a large amount of alterations. I’m wondering the following.

  1. Is this yet another case of white washing?
  2. Is this the “Only average sized features are pretty so let’s make EVERYONE look the same!” train of thought?
  3. Is it this the “Let’s contour the heck out of her face using light and dark – oh we’ve gone a bit far – better do the same with her body so it matches” mistake?

I wonder what Washington thinks of the cover?

What do you think? Do you heavily photoshop pictures of yourself? I tried it once but my mate asked “What’s the point, it’s hardly like you have three eyes or something anyway?” and my Mum was sort of disturbed by the fact that I didn’t look like her daughter anymore.

Chrissie xx