Crystal Renn gave an enlightening interview to Jezebel yesterday, specifically responding to the controversy over her taping her eyes back. Here's some choice clips:
Crystal: I've had moles painted on my face. I've had freckles painted on. I've been made lighter, I've been made tanner with makeup. It's exciting to me...It's not who I am, standing in front of the camera — something happens. I become something else. That's part of why this is a job, it's a performance. There's a whole team and tons of work that goes into 8-10 images that you see in an editorial...As a model, I have made it a big point to learn fashion references, which include different types of brows. And because I don't want to shave my brows off and have the makeup artist, or whoever, draw 'em on, we use things such as tape and makeup to fake it, basically. And to bring the look. Which might be a '20s brow. Or to take 'em away. I did a shoot with Tushmagazine and we bleached my brows away. I didn't go home like that, we dyed them back. But tape is very much the same thing.
Jenna: But just to be clear: when you say it's about "transformation," you're not talking about specific racial transformation. This wasn't about making you look Asian?
Crystal: Oh, absolutely not. We didn't even think about that on the shoot. I'm the one who suggested it, and it didn't even cross my mind. It's something that I regularly ask makeup artists, you know, if it will bring something more to the character. Offer a different face.
Jenna: But not an Asian face.
My initial response was surprise and a bit of awe to discover that Ms. Renn has that much creative control over her image; good for her. She should get more credits to her name.
I still feel uneasy about the whole thing, though, because instead of some boneheaded attempt at racial irony, this whole thing is now smack-dab in the middle of the racial "uncanny valley," where white privilege blinds a person to the potential insensitivity of their actions (ref: "I'm the one who suggested it, and it didn't even cross my mind."). This is where internet discussions tend to devolve into shit-flinging the most because white privilege is a difficult concept to debate rationally, but other Jezebel readers touched upon it:
Ferrette: Ok, so she's not intentionally racist. But she was pretty damn insensitive
yfunk: Welcome to the world of the "chinky eye". It's always wonderful for Asians everywhere whenever an athlete (or entire sports team) does it, especially during a match against an Asian athlete or team.
One gets desenstitized to the ridiculousness, but the outrage always manages to manifest for at least a few seconds. Then, the crushing feeling of defeat.
RaisinGirl: I've also become increasingly uncomfortable at how while most people seem to understand that blackface is an offensive and outdated practice, yellowface seems to get a pass as "not really racist".
Anyway, that's all I have to say on the matter. No one's minds are changing, and we can chalk it up to another brick in the wall that separates me and those like me from other Americans.
Meanwhile, check this shit out. A lot more obvious, so easier to swallow: