In many ways, the ad campaign for Jeffree Star Cosmetics' Androgyny eye shadow palette is revolutionary. A popular beauty brand featuring a drag queen (Adore Delano) AND a trans woman of color (Nikita Dragun) in its promotional images is a huge win for the LGBTQ community.
But many are claiming that there's something very, very wrong with this series of photos.
People are saying that in her solo campaign images, Nikita Dragun's skin tone is very dark.
Like, MUCH darker than usual.
On the left: the campaign image for Androgyny. On the right: Nikita in one of her YouTube videos.
Star and Delano's skin tones appear to remain the same throughout all of the images.
The campaign was shot by photographer Marcelo Bantu, who is no stranger to controversy.
In fact, Bantu has been accused of using blackface in photo shoots before, too.
Star also has a history of making racist comments, particularly towards Black women.
Videos and screenshots from Star's old Myspace account surfaced last year, in which he uses racial slurs, and jokes about lightening a Black woman's skin with battery acid.
He has since apologized, but it has still caused many people to boycott his brand.
Whether Dragun's appearance was caused by a spray tan, an intentional move by Star, or just a case of excess image editing is unknown.
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UPDATE: Nikita Dragun responded to the controversy in a statement to Seventeen.com.
"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."