In Episode 5 of Cycle 4 of America’s Next Top Model the ladies are asked to model for the classic “Got Milk?” campaign.
In an attempt to make the ad campaign more “diverse looking” each girl was portrayed as a race other than their own. Many of the “white” women were made up to portray “African-American” or “biracial” but what struck me the most was how those of varying race and backgrounds were made up to be represented of races other than their own. The one model that was biracial in real life was made up to be “African” and the girl that was described as “multi-ethnic” was made to be “Swedish” whatever that means.
Set aside that using make up to make people look like a generic image of different ethnicities is problematic in its own right, ignoring the intersectional identities that the women have in their own life could be thought of as even more troublesome. It creates an artificial identity for the women to represent that in turn increases the level of disidentification the viewers experience.
Someone who may have identified with one women is suddenly forced to lose the visual representation and question how much they identified with them in the first place. By creating these fake representations rather than letting their own intersectional identities be portrayed, there becomes an almost active approach that removes their own identities as whole.