Why is this depiction of the usually blonde pixie-haired actress Michelle Williams supposedly “impersonating” Native Americans getting people so infuriated?
The reportedly “offensive” black and white photograph is of Williams on the cover of the Spring/Summer issue of British magazine AnOther, donning black pigtails, jeans, a plaid shirt and a dark coat, accessorizing with a few feathers and Native American jewelry.
It has got people pointing the finger at Michelle Williams and accusing her of racism because in that getup, she is perhaps stereotyping what Native Americans look like.
Online magazine Refinery29, based out of New York stated in their headline, “What?? We can't believe how offensive Michelle Williams' latest cover is.”
Continuing in their storyline, Refinery29 added, “Michelle Williams currently has a blonde pixie cut. So it's not like they just braided her hair coincidentally. They added super-long, thick, black extensions and braided them — and darkened her eyebrows,' they wrote. 'Then there's the makeup. 'The photo is in black-and-white, so you can't tell for sure if they've altered her normally fair skin, but there is some definite contouring around the nose and the cheekbones that not only makes her look nearly unrecognizable, but also appears to mimic the stark relief of facial features often seen in early portraits of Native American women. 'The same mimicry applies her stoic, unsmiling pose - also a typical trope in that particular genre and period of art history.”
They have a point – the depiction of Michelle on first blush doesn’t scream out “Native American,” but comparatively, it is certainly an attempt at it.
Equally appalled is Ruth Hopkins of feminist blog Jezebel who said, “Am I glad that unlike most racist, stereotypical caricatures of American Indians in pop culture today, Michelle is not practically naked? Yes – but just as Blackface is never okay, Redface is never okay. Ever.”
Michelle as “Indian” isn’t the only costume-clad shot in the Brit mag – AnOther also has her posing in a variety of looks to include the retro coed sitting on a footstool in a preppy sweatshirt and jeans, the retro-chic Prada dress-clad femme fatale and the artsy pink-tinted blonde with bright blue eyeshadow, perhaps inspired by Andy Warhol’s piece called “Marilyn.”
So is Michelle Williams in “Redface” offensive? Personally I believe in the expression “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” but you be the judge…