Australian model and friends don blackface to apparently 'praise' Venus, Serena, and Kobe
Blackface is bad, right? Right?
In the 19th century, there were instances of white artists and performers donning dark brown makeup on their skin in order to appear black, but since then, society has collectively decided (with very good reason) that along with the concept of slavery, blackface is pretty bad for the idea that all races are equal. So we stopped.
Recently, however, we've seen the spectre of blackface rear its ugly, heavily-made-up head not once, but twice over the space of a couple of weeks.
In mid-December, the French footballer Antoine Griezmann had to issue a rapidly-delivered apology, after coming under fire for showing up to an 80s costume party dressed as a Harlem Globetrotter. On Twitter, the 26-year-old attempted to pass off his costume as a "tribute", but was eventually forced to delete the photo.
Now, an Australian model has come under fire, for not only dressing up in blackface one more, but also apparently to imitate two of the most iconic sporting sisters in modern time: Serena and Venus Williams.
This is Sophie Applegarth. She's a model who's signed to Chic Management, a modelling agency established in 1992 in order to unearth the best modelling talent across Australia. She's also generated a following of around 17,500 Instagram followers, but after a series of posts on her page, Applegarth has come in for severe criticism online.
While they've been since taken down, the social media backlash has refused to abate, and with good reason: along with her friends, Applegarth attended a costume party with a theme of sporting stars, and chose to go as Serena Williams. Another of her friends went as Venus, while another dressed up as Kobe Bryant.
There are plenty of sporting stars that Sophie Applegarth could have represented instead of the Williams sisters, or Kobe Bryant. Ronda Rousey and Danica Patrick are just two names - while in the world of tennis, there's also Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber or Eugenie Bouchard.
In response to the backlash online, Applegarth changed her Instagram account private, but not before posting a statement to that criticism that was pretty weak as far as apologies go.
"Disclaimer — I had no 'racist' or malicious intent by the photos I just uploaded. We were praising our fav sports stars Serena and Venus Williams. Did not mean to offend."
On Instagram, however, the story was rather different, and as we can see here, Applegarth's response to the whole controversy was decidedly less remorseful.
Understandably, Twitter went in hard on Applegarth and her rather distasteful "costume".
It remains to be seen the full extent of the retribution Sophie Applegarth will be subject to as a result of her ill-advised dress-up, but as of now, her page has been removed from the Chic Management page, though Chic Management themselves have declined to comment on the issue.
All the same, this incident serves as a reminder that although we've come a long way in terms of racial equality, there are still instances where we have to make sure everyone's on the same page when it comes to racism.
Oh, and that blackface is bad. There's never, ever a good reason to don blackface.