The African Queen is White.

Ondria Hardin, a 16-year-old white model poses as “African Queen” in Numero Magazine.

Don’t mistake exotification for cultural appropriation, especially when NOTHING about this reflects the image it claims to be projecting. What about this portrait is African or regal??? Not the Eurocentric fabric, design/style and certainly not her posture(would ANY queen, let alone an African one, be captured in that stance?). Incidentally, this happens to be ALL the picture has to offer, meaning all there is to appreciate(hypothetically) is EUROPEAN. Why couldn’t they just hire an African girl, or at least one of African descent? Because archetypically African features are much more appreciated when mimicked by someone of another culture. This is hardly contentious because I’ve NEVER seen African royalty grace the cover of a magazine, let alone be internationally appreciated for their aesthetics, but we’ve ALL seen Kate Middleton’s breasts.

I’ve spoken before about the Eurocentric definition of what constitutes royalty, and this portrait echoes my claim that African royalty is marginalized.

 Let’s call this “African Queen” misnomer what it is: ethnographic patronization. This is extremely disconcerting, and unfortunately not the only of its kind.

I’m one of those people who advocate publicizing African culture simply because girls like me need to see a positive images of themselves in the media. This can be done without compromising a people’s dignity or pretending to appreciate our culture while making “necessary adjustments”. 

This is why I NEED to work for Africa. This is what happens when my image is left in the hands of someone who isn’t me, doesn’t appreciate me, and defines beauty as opposite to me.

-Maleele Choongo