Zulu warriors as modelling props: Britain’s Next Top Model

Via Oh No They Didn’t and topmodel, this latest Britain’s Top Model photo shoot.



As Brigitte says at Make Fetch Happen,

It really boggles my mind that for some people, the first thing that pops into their mind when seeing any African person in traditional dress is “Wow, that thing would make a great prop for my photo.” There is no such thing as subtle contrast in that photographer’s eye, there is only, “wouldn’t it look cool to have a white woman in expensive clothes standing in front of black Africans? I mean, they’re so savage and dangerous but she is so in control!”

(More images below the cut, could be triggery)

I guess they’re just trying to compete with Iritline‘s slavery porn:


And remember America’s Next Top Model’s murder shoot?


And Galliano’s fun-sexy-torture show?


You can watch the whole BNTM episode on Youtube here: parts one, two, three, four, and five. The relevant parts start in part three, five minutes in.

Catherine: “When we arrived, we could hear this like, weird singing, and as soon as we walked in, we could see these Zulu dancers, doing their dance. I just loved the atmosphere!”

Rachael: “The fact that we had Zulu warriors was so much fun! There was so much excitement and activity going on, it was definitely a bit of a wakeup call. I think I just stood there, like – Oh my gosh, what are they going to make me do? And as if out of nowhere, Huggy [Ragnarsson] comes walking through. I thought – what an amazing entrance.”

Huggy: “Welcome girls, welcome to Warrior-Land. Each one of you is my warrioress, and you have your warrior men. I brought you the best of the best – the Zulus. So you’re going to be the Magnificent Seven: one girl plus six great warrior men. So come with me – let’s start our journey.”


Alex: “My photo shoot was brilliant. She picked out this amazing Moulin Rouge-esque swing that was hanging from the ceiling with lights and stuff, and this beautiful vintage Valentino gown, which was just amazing.”

Huggy: “If I shot Alex standing next to the Zulu boys, she would look quite petite. So I put her on a swing, to give her that length, which she just handled beautifully.”

Alex: “I was sort of like hanging off the swing, [inuntelligible] and just be like – I’m powerful!”

Huggy: […] “I wanted to show her power, her elegance, her strength. She was like Audrey Hepburn on a swing in Moulin Rouge. She was in her element, you know – and fearless!”

It goes on from there. It’s all cringeworthy. And not in a good way.

Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism, indigenous

Tags: , ,

19 replies

  1. ::criiiinge::
    I’d be *very* interested to hear about the “Zulu warriors” thoughts on the shoot.

  2. As disturbing as the models and Zulus shots are, those murder and torture ones make my blood run cold.
    Rayedishs last blog post..It seems that people continue to go to extremes to ensure that they have a son

  3. That’s just so appallingly. How can they not see it is Racist with a capital R.
    Also “warrioress”? WTF?
    Fatadelics last blog post..A simple concept, one would think

  4. Those torture references make my blood run cold.

    “I brought you the best of the best”????
    All that language about the ‘strangeness’ of the singing, the grand entrance, the feeling of ‘power’ as a white woman swinging unharmed through a group of ‘savages’.
    And those shots of the ‘HAWT DEAD CHICKS’! I mean wow, I knew *dead chicks* were considered ‘sexy’ props in media from shows like SVU etc…but it’s just so blatant and unashamed! And the pic where she’s horrendously bruised, but still pouting seductively. Excuse me while I go barf.

  6. fuckpoliteness, I can hear your head repeatedly thumping on the desk from here. It echoes mine. It was like they shoved both feet into their mouths, and then other people’s feet, and just kept.on.going.

  7. Yeah…I have an eye twitch…I’m wondering if you can hear my ears bleeding with rage? And you know…you’ve got this…and then we’re all expected to laugh amiably at the next racist of sexist joke…
    (I better stop typing, the eyetwitch is gaining momentum)

  8. Oh for fuck’s sake! Fashion is so…Can they not see the harm in this? How neatly those images fit into a sad legacy of colonialism? *splutters incoherently* And those murder shots? Even though I’ve seen so many sexualized female corpses in various television shows and films, my blood still runs cold. It’s weird how I didn’t have the same visceral reaction to the images of Galliano’s torture pr0n, though…I mean, it’s awful, but does anyone else have a stronger reaction to the women?

  9. Britain still channelling their inner colonialists, I see.

  10. Yes Redblossom I do have a stronger reactio to the shots of the women…but you know what? I think that’s because the men in the torture shots are postured as strong, defiant and proud…they’re ‘manly men’ shaking off ‘the baddies’, marching strong and proud with their killer abs, their agency still in tact…I mean even with the hood on…he’s got a gash on his chest, a bag on his head, but he slips on the designer grundies, the leather jacket, and he’s good to go. Swaggering machismo? Check. It’s wrong and it’s fucking ridiculous, but I guess it’s so removed from the reality of the bodies that ARE being tortured…I mean really I don’t think the prisoners of Abu Ghraib are on macrobiotic diets or high protein shakes anand given an abmaster you know?
    It’s…women are frequently ‘sexy victims’ in pop culture, whereas white men are still able to stride down the catwalk all ‘You’re never gonna keep me down’.
    Or did I just rant a load of codswallop?

  11. Oh for fuck’s sake! Fashion is so…Can they not see the harm in this?

    The standard defence seems to be “But fashion is aaaaaaart, and we’re making people THINK. And therefore, this is political, and therefore we’re terribly conscious and activist and everything!”

  12. I actually watched the episode with the murder victims.

    The commentary and feedback from the judges was even more disturbing that the shoot itself.

  13. One piece of art can be read in several ways, often these ways represent the viewer more than that of the creator – and I think this discussion is a perfect example.
    I’m sorry, but I think some of you are reading a little to much into things and you are assuming the artists motives behind their actions. Perhaps their motives are not as colonial as one thinks. When I look at these pictures I see two diffent kinds of contrasting beauty (different yet equal) – that of the girls and that of the African (who are not acting “savage” in the image so how could anyone claim that that is the reason behind using them) – not beautiful and savage. Perhaps it is your own negitivity seeing such badness behind the image. I don’t know how Iritline’s images could be viewed as slavery porn, unless one was looking for negativity – I see a window into the past, sure there are slaves in history but we can’t sweep our past under a rug, we need to first acknowledge mistakes to learn from them. Yes some women wear no tops – but firstly we don’t see anything and secondly (if you know your egyptian history you would know this) female slaves back then did have bear breasts. Lastly in the America’s Next Top Model’s murder shoot, i find myself feeling sorry for these poor victims of violence – I think that is the point, that we feel sorry (not arroused, not happy, not attracted – like many of you seem to think the artists motive was) – in a way it gives a voice to those poor women victims. Too many people are too quick to judge negatively, particuarly art because people see themselves mirrored there in.

  14. kay’s comment is one of those exercises in detecting Wite-Magik Attax, isn’t it? Part of the Mystery-Commenter programme?

  15. Interesting that kay only seems to have one topic that she wants to discuss over several different posts, that topic being that reading broader social messages into an artistic representation is somehow terribly unfair.

  16. that topic being that reading broader social messages into an artistic representation is somehow terribly unfair.

    …and reflects badly on those engaging in the critique.
    Also known as the “No, YOU’RE the racist! NER!” position.
    [eta: There really should be a better acronym for that.]

  17. @ Lauredhel
    There should be a BINGO! for that.

  18. Mindy: Yes, perhaps a more specific one would be good. It touches on “You’re being silly and overemotional” and on “You’ve just got a victim mentality” and on “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with feminism…”, and perhaps also a little on “Get off your bum and spend your time on more important causes”.
    But yes, I’m regretting not adding “It’s aaaaaaaaart”.
    I’m not sure how to argue with someone who thinks the Top Model murder shoot wasn’t about women being attractive, though. That’s some grade-A platinum-coated denial right there, when you look at the judge’s comments:

    ”What’s great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.”
    “You look incredible in front of me here. You look beautiful in this picture. This is a full package right now. ”
    “She’s making those clothes look kind of fierce.”
    “I think you look absolutely wonderful. Extension of the neck.”
    “Death becomes you, young lady. ”
    ” The look on your face is just extraordinary. Very beautiful and dead.”
    “All the other girls managed to have some sort of spark even in this sort of morbid situation. I think I look at you in this picture, and you actually just look dead. One of the simplest things, like acting dead, can be the most challenging. The problem is that you didn’t do anything. You just gave up and thought that that was being dead.”


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