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Kim Kardashian is launching a Beauty line, called KKW Beauty, on Wednesday, so naturally she’s drumming up a lot of publicity for it. But people are taking issue with the promotional photos she’s featured in, accusing the reality star of appearing in blackface.
In case you're not familiar, "blackface" is a practice dating back to the 19th century, where white performers would paint their faces black to depict black people in denigrating, stereotype-ridden performances. The practice is widely considered to be offensive and disrespectful to African-Americans. These days, people darkening their skin through makeup or Photoshop to appear black (even if they're not performing in minstrel shows) is considered the modern-day equivalent.
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In a series of ads for Kim’s new KKW Beauty line, she’s sporting what appears to be a darker-than-normal skin tone. This picture in particular got a lot of comments:
Of course, there were people on both sides. Some people accused Kim of blackface:
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While others thought the claims were ridiculous:
Kim said in a new interview with The New York Times that her dark skin tone was a combination of being “really tan” and using a photo contrast. “I would obviously never want to offend anyone,” she said. “I used an amazing photographer and a team of people. I was really tan when we shot the images, and it might be that the contrast was off. But I showed the image to many people, to many in the business. No one brought that to our attention. No one mentioned it.”
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That said, she added that she has “the utmost respect for why people might feel the way they did.”
Kim and her team also altered the photos to make them less dark since the controversy. “We made the necessary changes to that photo and the rest of the photos,” she said. “We saw the problem, and we adapted and changed right away. Definitely I have learned from it.”
This isn't the first time that Kim has been accused of cultural appropriation issues. Fans in April were angered by a Kimoji prayer candle that she sold in her online store—which depicted her as the Virgin Mary, a sacred Christian figure.
Kim’s beauty line—which features a $48 Creme Contour & Highlight Kit—is projected by Women’s Wear Daily to sell out in less than five minutes, making her a cool $14.4 million in the process.