A little over a year ago, an editorial in Rush Magazine led me to explore the issue of black male objectification in fashion editorials, as those of you who’ve been following the FAB Blog since its early days, may recall. The editorial showed a lily white Caucasian model on the cover of the magazine surrounded by black models, the one in the background only noticeable at second look as they were obliterated by dark lighting, in a set up reminiscent of a helpless female prey surrounded by preying men who seemed to depict ‘lust’ with their body language and expressions. As if the visual innuendo wasn’t all too clear, the cover line screamed, “One for All.”

As I recounted at the time, this obviously was not the first editorial of its kind to portray black men in a sexually aggressive role, almost the ‘exotic other’ to be admired and feared, glorified and crucified in equal measure.

When I stumbled on Tumblr upon this The Contributing Editor editorial inexplicably titled ‘African Nation’ photographed by Cliff Watts and styled – strangely enough in stylist’s own garments – by Fashion Editor Matthew Edelstein featuring black model Kone from Red NY, I felt the same chill down my spine I felt looking at the Rush cover over a year ago, as numerous questions popped in my head one after the other…

If this is indeed a fashion editorial, why are all items stylists’ own? 

If the items are all stylists’ own, what is on showcase here (Not too hard to tell, as you can see)?

If this is art, what exactly is being depicted and how does a scantily clad black man depict the ‘African Nation’ of the title?

If he is indeed an artful depiction of the ‘African Nation’ of the title, what assumptions are we then being asked (by the editor) to make about the ‘African Nation’? Fit, young, black, sexually objectified and scantily clad?

While the shots of a fit young man, admittedly are aesthetically pleasing, there is ample amount of flesh gratuitously on show and an ample amount of strip-teasing going on with wet white clothing hugging certain body parts strategically too tightly. If it were a female model in the images – white or black – the medium would not be a fashion magazine but another genre oft found wrapped in cellophane on the top shelf at your newsagents, so how can we marry these images we would find too explicit for female fashion in a fashion editorial just because the model in question is of a male persuasion?

In my opinion, this shoot almost reeks of desperation for controversy (“Let’s use a black men scantily clad in revealing, skin-tight, wet white clothes – and totally naked in one – whereby we’re actually not selling or showcasing any products, and call the editorial ‘African Nation'” I can almost hear a fashion editor scream what he doubtless felt was a genius epiphany), and as such, a cheap, tasteless shot at fashion art where, once again, it is the black man who falls prey to the sexual objectification of the dominantly white fashion world.



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3 Responses

  1. Michelle Spice

    This is a fact as Afrikan people we have exceptional bodies both males and females.

    But we have to take care of ourselves, eat right, exercise and eliminate our stresses!

    We also have to love ourselves and treat ourselves well…

    I love the look of this young male body. I love the tone… I love the ripple of the muscles and I love the way he protrays been centual and keen of his flexibility and poses…

    We are a blessed nation and we should never forget that, we are a gift to creation no matter what anyone says or any system tries to prove, we are the best and we must understand, actualize and work with that..

    Blessed as always…

  2. Lola

    Great post Sinny

    Looking through the images I can certainly appreciate the “artistic” element but the question does pop into my mind that “where is the fashion story?”

    If it was just an abstract series by a photographer then I would nod and mumble words such as “strong” “powerful” “emotional” but in the way it was portrayed and presented, you catch a slight reek of soft gay porn.

    As a fashion story entitled African Nation it totally falls short of any acceptable expectations.



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