By Caroline Wilcox
Cosmetic tycoon Jeffree Star has landed himself in yet another controversy this week. After posting promotional photos for his new eyeshadow palette, Star is being accused of drastically darkening friend and beauty blogger Nikita Dragun’s skin.
When the images were posted, fans immediately took to social media to share their opinions. Many found the pictures racist, saying that the editing of Dragun’s skin is akin to putting the model in blackface. Blackface is officially defined as a form of theatrical makeup used by non-black performers to represent a black person on stage used during the nineteenth century. It is incredibly offensive as it was used to promote racist perceptions.
Dragun posted on Twitter that her Mexican and South East Asian genetics mixed with a spray tan was the cause of her dark skin. Star commented on how “mean and sadistic people are” for their comments.
Apart from his tweet, Star hasn’t made any official statements about the matter. Dragun, however, sent a statement to Popsugar. The statement is as follows:
“It’s very unfortunate that a section of the community is choosing to interpret and liken my image in Jeffree Star’s campaign to blackface. The message of this campaign is intended to welcome all gender identities, sexualities, and races to enjoy the makeup line. Additionally, the creative design for the imagery called for high contrast between light and shadow, and low lighting, which lends itself to creating a mood for the imagery. This campaign is so exciting and so disruptive. I’m proud to be featured in it as a transgender woman of mixed race (my mother being Mexican and my father Vietnamese). I’m disappointed that anyone would choose to critique the creative design of this incredibly inclusive campaign, rather than celebrate the diversity in it.”
It is clear that Dragun’s skin is significantly darker in the promotional shots than most of the other pictures found on her Instagram. Whether or not the photos were excessively edited, or if the darkening was intentional, is up for debate.