Gigi Hadid blackface
photo: Getty

UPDATE, 5/3, 5:30 PM: Hadid responded to the controversy with a lengthy statement on her Instagram Stories. Keep scrolling to read her response. 

On Wednesday, Gigi Hadid excitedly announced her new Vogue Italia cover. 

"Excited, honored, and grateful to cover @VogueItalia’s May issue," Hadid wrote on Instagram, tagging the team behind the shoot, which included photographer Steven Klein and Vogue editor Emanuele Farneti. "I am forever inspired by you all!!! & can’t wait to share the full story."

Hadid decided to share a photo of the cover — and her followers were shocked. Hadid was completely unrecognizable, and her makeup is now being called out as a form of blackface

Either by makeup, Photoshop, or both, Hadid's complexion was darkened to the point that fans mistook her for a “completely different person."  

Gigi Hadid allegedly wore blackface on her Vogue Italia cover
photo: Instagram/@gigihadid

The internet wasted no time calling the 23-year-old model and Vogue Italia out. 

Twitter reactions to Gigi Hadid's "blackface" Vogue Italia cover
photo: Twitter

It's important to note that Steven Klein, the photographer of Hadid's Vogue Italia cover, has used blackface in his work before. In 2009, he and Vogue Paris editor in chief Carine Roitfeld painted model Lara Stone in blackface for a feature on the new supermodels. 

None of the models in the feature were women of color. 

This also isn't the first time Hadid has been accused of cultural appropriation. 

Gigi Hadid's history of blackface
photo: Twitter

In 2015, Hadid posed for Vogue Italia (yep, same magazine) wearing an afro wig and darker makeup. 

Gigi Hadid's history of blackface
photo: Twitter

Although her most recent cover has stoked criticism, some fans don't believe Hadid's Vogue Italia shoot qualifies as blackface.

Did Gigi Hadid do blackface?
photo: Twitter
Is Gigi Hadid's Vogue Italia cover blackface?
photo: Twitter

However, too much bronzer and Photoshop can be a form of blackface in the digital age, especially while the lack of diversity in beauty and fashion is rampant. 

According to The Fashion Spot, runways are the most diverse they've ever been and it's STILL estimated that 63% of New York Fashion Week castings are white. 

Rather than darkening the skin of white models, editors and designers need to cast more non-white faces for the pages of their ads and magazines. 

For more on the connection between the blackface of the early 1900s and the over bronzed blackface in beauty and fashion today, read our fashion reporter Mary Anderson's deep dive here.

This afternoon, Hadid shared a statement about the Vogue Italia cover on her Instagram Stories. It's a far cry from her initial "excited, honored, and grateful" post about the cover. "It was not executed correctly," she admitted, adding, "things would have been different if my control of the situation was different." 

She claims the photo in the apology is of her leaving the photoshoot. 

"You can see the level I had been bronzed," she wrote. "The bronzing and Photoshop is a style that S. [Steven] Klein has done for many years." The intent of the visual, she writes, was to show her in a "different way creatively." 

Hadid goes on to say that the result would have been different if she'd had more control, even though her initial reaction to the cover had no such disclaimer. She hopes the cover will serve as an example to other magazines in the future. 

Unfortunately, we've had many examples of blackface in magazines, and in every case there has been outrage. Still, this keeps happening, because it is true that magazines and photographers aren't held to account as much as models and celebrities — and magazine editors like Emanuele Farneti and photographers like Steven Klein are the ones with the power.  

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