L'Oréal under fire for 'whitewashing' Beyoncé

The beauty giant L'Oréal has provoked outrage on both sides of the Atlantic after allegedly whitewashing the face of the singer Beyoncé Knowles for an advertisement in the latest US edition of
Elle magazine.

A section of the magazine devoted to L'Oréal Paris includes a full-length head shot of the star with windswept hair as part of an advert promoting the Féria hair-highlighting product.

Knowles's complexion in the advertisement appears dramatically lighter than it is in reality. The singer's skin appears to be washed over with a milky hue.

The 636-page magazine features Jessica Simpson on its cover and contains eight pages of L'Oréal advertisements in all. These are evenly divided between Beyoncé, Scarlett Johansson, the model Milla Jovovich and actress Penélope Cruz.

In a piece called "Beyoncé the Pale", the New York Post described the advertisement as "shocking" and said it made the superstar, who sang the worldwide hits Crazy and Bootylicious, "virtually unrecognisable".

One fan commented on the celebrity gossip website TMZ: "Shame on L'Oréal for doing this. I see no excuse for this. If it was uneven skin tone then they just as easily could have made her a tone darker. But they did not do that. They made her white."

A L'Oréal spokesman denied that the company had digitally adjusted Knowles's complexion.

"Beyoncé Knowles has been a spokesperson for the L'Oréal Paris brand since 2001. We highly value our relationship with Ms Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L'Oréal Paris altered Ms Knowles's features or skin-tone in the campaign for Féria hair colour."

Fashion experts in the UK seized upon the image as a sign of negative attitudes within the fashion industry towards women with darker skin. Shevelle Rhule, the fashion and beauty editor of Pride, a lifestyle magazine for the British black community, said: "We know that this is fairly common practice but that doesn't make it excusable.

"This sort of thing creates a negative perception of African beauty. It's an attempt to impose European values on African beauty and the two simply don't mix in this way. A lot of young black girls out there, who look up to Beyoncé as a role model, will be disheartened to see these images. We need to challenge the idea that being fair necessarily means being more attractive. It doesn't, and models who are proud to be black need to be more in vogue.

"For all the talk of 'black is beautiful', images like this clearly show that we've got a very long way to go yet."

Anne Janas, the senior vice-president at Hachette Filipacchi Media, the US publisher of Elle, said: "All I know is that Beyoncé looks remarkably beautiful on that. We do not get involved in the colouring of adverts that appear in the magazine. That is a matter for L'Oréal."

The black students officer for the National Union of Students, Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, said suggestions that images of black celebrities were being digitally modified were concerning.

"We believe any such modifications could suggest the view that black is not beautiful. We believe that all people should be celebrated as they are."

In 1994, Time magazine was accused of doctoring a picture of the American footballer and double-murder suspect OJ Simpson to make him look blacker.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected