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Beyoncé Criticized for 'Blackface' Photo Shoot

Singer 'voluntarily darkened' her skin for 'L'Officiel Paris' shoot as a tribute to Fela Kuti

February 24, 2011 12:30 PM ET
Beyoncé Criticized for 'Blackface' Photo Shoot
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Beyoncé has been in scores of edgy, fashion-forward photo and video shoots -- but some critics are scratching their heads over a spread in the March issue of french fashion mag L'Officiel Paris.

In honor of the mag's 90th anniversary, and in tribute to Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, the singer, 29, appears in "blackface" makeup and tribal makeup and costume designed by her mom Tina Knowles.

In a statement (via website Jezebel), the magazine said that the superstar' s surprising look was "far from the glamorous Sasha Fierce" and explained that it was "a return to her African roots, as you can see on the picture, on which her face was voluntarily darkened."

But the "Halo" singer didn't exactly get universal praise for the shoot.

Sniped Charing Ball of the Atlanta Post: "Blackface is not fashion forward or edgy and, in my opinion, it is just flat-out offensive."

Echoed Jezebel's Dodai Stewart, "It's fun to play with fashion and makeup, and fashion has a history of provocation and pushing boundaries. But when you paint your face darker in order to look more 'African,' aren't you reducing an entire continent, full of different nations, tribes, cultures and histories, into one brown color?"

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