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Peggy Noland’s Oprah dresses. (image via colorlines.com)

Artist and fashion designer Peggy Noland’s four dresses of Oprah’s face Photoshopped onto variously sized black female bodies perpetuate American pop culture’s rampant racism. Modeled by a white woman, the dresses suggest that anyone can go ahead and “try on” a black woman’s body in sizes “petite, average, or obese,” all categories defined by white beauty standards. This harkens back to histories of black bodies of all genders being put on display, often at public slave auctions, as objects of ridicule and scrutiny, to be bought and sold under white American supremacy. But it doesn’t stop there — Noland chooses an unidentified headless black female body that’s essentially decapitated, its head replaced with Oprah’s.

Noland banks on a white hipster aesthetic that gives anyone who questions it both an ironic shrug of the shoulders and an eye-roll, suggesting that everyone needs to “calm the fuck down already” because we live in a post-racial world. This is how hipster racism subtly and insidiously begins, eventually becoming full-on pop culture racism. The artist profits, and the black woman’s body is once again visually, sexually, and emotionally degraded. One wonder what Noland’s recent client Rihanna would say.

The woman on Noland’s dresses could very well be Renisha McBride, 19, a black woman who was shot in the head when she asked for help late on a Saturday night in a white suburb outside of Detroit. Or Rekia Boyd, 22, a black woman who was shot and killed for no reason by a Chicago off-duty police officer. The women on Noland’s dresses could be the black women who haunt the 9-mile bridge in Auxvasse, Missouri, where legend has it they were hung, and their slave children were drowned in the nearby creek. Auxvasse is a three-hour drive from Noland’s hometown of Independence, Missouri.

Peggy Noland in Oprah dress (image via awesomelyluvvie.com) (click to enlarge)

The racism and sexism of these dresses screams from the mouth of an appropriated Oprah, the most powerful black woman in entertainment today, who mostly white daytime-TV-watching ladies love to identify with even though her experience couldn’t be more different from their own. Oprah’s pasted-on face goes from calm and smiling when uber-skinny and average-sized to horrified and screaming with the final increase in weight. By using these sizes, Noland reinforces a culture of body shaming by white women toward women of color. Oprah has been publicly judged and mocked for her struggles with weight, and that judgment comes from a white Eurocentric fashion industry that decides which bodies are acceptable and which bodies are policed.

With these dresses, Noland creates a kind of wearable, allover blackface, a racist phenomenon that became ubiquitous again this year. Just one example came from actress Julianne Hough, who showed up to a party in Beverly Hills donning blackface for her costume of the character Crazy Eyes (played by Uzo Aduba) in the TV show Orange Is the New Black. Hough even attempted to “blacken” her blonde hair by tying it into a few loose buns, attempting to emulate Crazy Eyes’ natural hairstyle of tiny bantu-knots. Hough later issued an apology via her Twitter account, which read:

I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.

In her apology, Hough uses an excuse that should by now be unacceptable — that she “did not intend to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone,” and for that reason she should not be held responsible. At this point in American cultural history, it’s time to stop intending and start knowing better from the start.

Peggy Noland, “Google Me” dress (via peggynoland.bigcartel.com)

The same applies to Peggy Noland, whose style is clearly influenced by growing up in Independence, Missouri, where slavery was once legal. Missouri, a former border state, was admitted to the Union as a slave-holding state in 1821. This is where the notorious Dred Scott decision went down. Nowadays, there’s a place called Slave Plantation in Independence that people can conveniently check into on Foursquare. It’s a wonder that, considering the history of her hometown, Noland is ignorant of the racial implications in her work, as evidenced in an interview with New York Magazine.

Noland has made a name for herself designing for popular bands, including CSS, The Gossip, Peaches, and SSION. Shimmery, sparkling, and dazzling to look at for a time, her outfits play with excessive use of color, texture, and material in a way that’s light, fun, glossy, and hipster silly. In New York, Noland calls her style “trash meets high class.” Her cheeky recent dress Google Me is a custom-made occasion: find out what happens when you Google your name and the search engine autocompletes for you with suggestions that are equal parts profound and absurd. Then get it on a dress! 

The trouble with the Oprah project is its uncritical — some might say careless — use of imagery for the sake of fashion, which, while it is on the surface, speaks to what’s inside. When reflected back as part of Noland’s ongoing “trash aesthetic,” these dresses consider female bodies — specifically black ones — as objects that are commodified and ultimately meant for the garbage. It’s unacceptable for any woman’s body to be thought of this way, no matter who’s looking.

Alicia Eler

Alicia Eler is a cultural critic and arts reporter. She is the author of the book The Selfie Generation (Skyhorse Publishing), which has been reviewed in the New York Times, WIRED...

69 replies on “Dumb Racist Art Project: White Woman Sells Naked Oprah”

  1. First of all, I’m going to assume you didn’t attempt to contact the artists since you’re misrepresenting their work. The image is not of a “decapitated” or “unidentified” black body with a photo of Oprah’s head on it. The work is an entirely original rendering of Oprah created by another artist for the project, which if you had spoken with either of the artists–or just read the original article about the dresses–you would be aware of. That was your first failure as a “writer”. A refusal to present both sides of the equation doesn’t make you right, it makes you arrogant at best, and ignorant at worst.

    The second is your refusal to recognize Ms. Winfrey for who she is in our culture, but since you seem content to present her as nothing more than a black woman I will widen the scope for you. Oprah is THE queen of daytime television, and has made BILLIONS with the idea that she is “every woman”. And since the day she walked out onto a stage dragging a wagon full of animal fat behind her, the argument could easily be made that more than a few of her millions were made through the perpetuation and exploitation of negative stereotypes regarding female body-image. From the fat-wagon on, Oprah continued to make a spectacle of her body image, and the body-image related issues of millions of women, all the while promoting fad diets and exercise trends specifically geared towards those women.

    As women, Peggy Noland and her collaborator have every right to an opinion on this presentation of female body ideals that Oprah spent decades cashing in on. As artists, they have every right to the creative expression of those opinions.

    I can’t help but feel you have made a spectacle of this piece in a heavy-handed attempt to cash in on a very real issue in our country, and the aims of this piece seem to go no further than making a name for yourself via these issues.

    It is INCREDIBLY OFFENSIVE that you would even think to equate this to the very real and very tragic instances of violence and racism currently taking place in our country.

    Think before you write.

    1. I first came across the photograph of these dresses through an article on the internet. They had already gone pretty much viral, and there was a public dialogue around them. This article is a continuation of the public dialogue.

      I am taking these images at face value – this is an op-ed essay – and I see that they are black female bodies with Oprah’s head literally cut and pasted onto them. The bodies are not identified – they are stand-ins for Oprah’s body – and the act of cutting and sewing images of bodies and pasting Oprah’s head onto them, and them putting them on display absolutely does read as violent and exploitative.

      The dresses could have started a dialogue about media representations of celebrity, more specifically a pop culture obsession with Oprah’s weight and how in turn she has capitalized off of selling those ideas, and in turn made money off of the bodies of all women who “buy into” the Oprah media empire. In that way, it is fascinating to think about the idea of other women literally WEARING her body – the body that she sells to them, through her fad diets and such as you mention above. But, these are far more complicated ideas than can be read through the surface-level presentation of these dresses on the internet. I do not believe that these images engage in this dialogue.

      Ms. Noland and her collaborator do have every right to problematize and appropriate pop culture imagery – my issue is with the imagery they used to do this. In the current context of our internet cultural climate – where stories of violence toward women of color proliferate – they do read as racist and commodifying the black female body. This could have been a different conversation if the presentation were altered – what if one of the models had been a black woman? What if the body was not anonymized? What if we had seen the white model’s face? What if Oprah was twerkin’ on the back of them, as one friend of mine noted? Why the focus on the front of the dress and not the back of them i.e. the big booty stereotype? This is a conversation that I am interested in, as a writer, as a culture worker, as a woman, and as a person who reads as white and accesses white privilege – with a heightened awareness of it – on a daily basis.

    2. I don’t think Oprah was ever naked. The bottom line is that the dresses are hideous. The fact that this woman calls herself an artist and has her friends, (or perhaps does so herself) comment with such spectactular stupidity is confirmation that she is a complete hack. You can defend the work with blind vehemence, but that will not erase it’s glaring ignorance. I’m sure this; however, this “artist” will continue to produce other works of garbage with the same level of unsophistication. Who would wear this shit?

      1. i don’t understand from your comment what you don’t like about these works

        that they are not pretty?

        are you opposed to all “unpretty” works?

        What do you consider a beautiful piece of art?

          1. at what point did we as a society decide ugly garbage could no longer be art?

            the idea that ugly garbage cannot be art flies in the face of modernism and many of the ensuing directions art has gone in

            what is one piece of contemporary art that you do like?

            a beautiful thing about the fine art market is that a piece of art is only being sold to one person, an artist does not need the wide cultural appeal that products like Happy Meals or Diet Coke rely on to remain commercially viable

  2. I repeat, TALK TO THE ARTISTS since you clearly have no idea what actually went into creating those images. Every inch of that image was obviously created digitally. Distressing that an “art critic” is so oblivious to the medium which she is reviewing.

    Second racism and violence fueled by racism are very serious issues in this country. You using the murder of a teenage girl as a comparative for a dress featuring an artists depiction of Oprah naked is such a vulgar attempt at spectacle. It reads like nothing more than a despicable manner to garner attention for yourself via very real, very tragic, and very important issues. Good for you.

    SharkLzr had it right–click-bait. It’s petty and a poor vehicle for discussing truly dangerous and oppressive ideologies in this country.

    1. In a society where woman are abused and killed and the men get off because it is deemed that the woman was asking for it because of the way she dressed? I feel Eler’s points are right on the mark. And I don’t need to talk to the artist to know how the work will be perceived because just because the artist meant one thing doesn’t mean it will be viewed that way by the public, or it’s intended audience. Often times the artist’s statement has no semblance of meaning to the viewer. The people who wear this dress are not walking around with the artist’s statement stapled to their foreheads…people see a naked woman…on the outside…and figure if she’ll wear it on the outside she must want us to see it all. Okay I admit it it’s not just bad design it’s also irresponsible design, and racist…

      1. i thought we had come to a place as a society where we could openly objectify women’s bodies without race entering into the picture

        we are evolving

    2. I did not write this piece to shock or make a spectacle of anything. I wrote this in response to the dresses, and I am reading into them historical representations of the black female body. This is not an empowered body on this dress – not that it has to be – and while it does start a conversation, I wish it did so in a way that did not cause such a negative reaction. I’m looking forward to speaking with the artists one of these days, in-person. For now, here we are on the internet, where we can have these conversations in semi-anonymous ways – much like the bodies on the dresses. Thank you to both of the artists for starting this conversation, as difficult and at times sad as it has been.

      1. Glad to hear it. I imagine the artists will be thrilled to be face-to-face with the woman who so expertly critiqued their work as dumb and racist, and equivalent to putting the body of a slain teen on a dress. Hope to see your op-ed about that conversation soon.

        1. The artist, just like Oprah is all about getting paid. Unfortunately
          for Noland, its on the backs of black folks and womens’ insecurities in our White male dominated culture.

      1. I never use my real name online unless for business advertizing purpose–it’s just not a good idea. Why are you using yours? Even the head of internet security advised against it.

          1. One professional’s opinion. I’m sure a case can be made for both but in our experience anonymous commenters aren’t speaking truth to power but simply afraid to attach their name to nasty comments.

          2. I didn’t say that your experience wasn’t correct, just that it wasn’t the only way to look at things. It’s limited as a moderator of this particular forum/site. This article went viral and started bringing in people from other parts of the internet where anonymous/psuedononymous handles are the norm.

            It’s probably true for this particular site – I’ll have to take your word, but go look at kinja (gawker media) sites or huff po where many people are positively contributing under anonymous psuedonyms *all the time*. It’s not uncommon.

    3. Who cares about the technical process involved in creating the images – what counts is the end result and that looks to me like the exploitation and ridicule of the black female form. The artists may have intended any number of politically correct and even progressive political statements, but none of that comes across in the dresses. What does come across is a pretty blond white woman wearing dresses with images of near naked black women. That’s it.

      “Able Mind” – you are a great defender of the artists but, FYI, nobody is going to read their theses to “get” their art – it is visual art; it is what it is. The author is correct, and the dresses are an ugly and vulgar attempt at spectacle.

  3. @AbleMind whether the image was designed by Peggy Noland herself or by this other unnamed artist…the body emblazoned on the dress was at some point decapitated and Oprah’s head was put on it digitally. Oprah did not pose nude for any of those images and I would put money on that.

    I agree that Oprah has made a great deal of money on her fat…and her attempts to be anything but….that was why we all tuned in isn’t it?…Let’s watch this person struggle with her weight on live TV…Wooo whoooo….Isn’t that why people watch the Biggest Loser and other degrading freak shows? There is this sick fantasy that through these people’s struggles we will find the answers that will magically help us “FIT IN”.

    As a Fat Activist I have a lot of feelings about the headless fatty imagery and wow is that “up the dress size and the fatter Oprah gets” concept sick and twisted ( as if the garment industry hasn’t created enough eating disorders )…But let me tell you this “Oprah” is not the head I want on my body…I don’t care how much money, fame and power she has…and how much white privilege I have. I think her continued quest for thin, new and perfect is tragic and I wish someone would kick her ass and tell her to get off the Bull Shit Wagon for the love of god and stop sell us this crap. Because it’s “perfect” nonsense. …But we are here talking about this tragic dress design… enough Oprah bashing…..It is racism? I don’t know any more…would I wear it? Not in a million years…even if it was the only item of clothing on earth and I had to parade around naked in my own fat in the freezing cold. Peggy Noland clearly has her taste buds in the wrong orifice…Is Ms. Eler’s writing about it going to get this monstrosity more press then it needs. YES!!! and YES again… But it’s a valid opinion by a woman that I feel understands pop culture and often give me interesting information to ponder.

    1. The face and body are one image that was entirely created digitally which is again why pieces like this which rely on incomplete and inaccurate information are a disservice to the larger discussion.

  4. One more thing–it’s adorable that continuing a viral discussion is your defense for the extremes you took to in this piece. Would LOVE to see what you came up with in Nazi Germany. I’m all for conversations about what is and isn’t exploitative in regards to race in our culture–point is you took it too far.

    1. I am so glad you are moving this into Nazi Germany. This is now becoming rude, and you are attacking me as an object – we are not having a conversation. I am responding to you so that we can have a conversation here. I am culturally Jewish, and I wrote my undergrad dissertation on queer film during the Weimar period, a time when women were embracing their sexualities, and gender was open to exploration in a way that it is only possible here in specific niches. The Weimar period ended with the beginning of the Holocaust. Hitler began censoring artwork – only images of the idealized Aryan hetero family were allowed, along with plenty of idyllic pastures. This is racial cleansing, and this is a history that I am connected to as a Jewish person. It is very strange to me that, I wrote this piece in defense of black women, essentially, and as anti-racist statement, and that you are now comparing me, as a white person, to someone who could be involved in ethnic cleansing.

      The bottom line is this: I am concerned with the way Noland and her collaborator used imagery of the black female body to start this conversation – they are not the first or the last people to do this. Moreover, I am concerned with the exploitation of all people under advanced capitalism.

      1. Really unfortunate when a conversation about a dress is taken to ILLOGICAL EXTREMES isn’t it? Glad the point is hitting home.

        1. No, the point is that this imagery is problematic and conversations like this need to be dealt with in ways that do not cause emotional damage. That is my point.

          1. So evoking imagery of a teenage girl who was murdered under potentially racially motivated circumstances, and referencing that the artist is from a city that once participated in slavery as if she herself must be implicit in that practice–these are your ways of avoiding emotional damage??? SO misguided it hurts.

          2. Right, so the problem is the anonymized brown bodies on the dress. I am evoking these because, yes, they are a part of the conversation that is integral to these dresses. You cannot look past them – this is the visual imagery that we are presented. They are bodies with Oprah’s face pasted onto them. Not sure what else to tell you.

          1. Yes Den, I am aware. Again, thank you for so gracefully spelling things out. I believe, for better or worse, you get what you give and in this instance tasteless extremism begets tasteless extremism. Something I hope the author will hold close in the future.

  5. I’m interested in how a piece of art can be called “racist”. It seems like you could go about it in a few different ways.

    The first would be to take into consideration the artist’s original intent. Does the artist express explicit racist views? Did they link those views to the work? In the case of Peggy’s Oprah dress, the answer would be no. The original intent here seemed to be focused solely on body image issues and celebrity.

    Second – You could say that the artist has implicit (unconsciously holds) racist sentiments that he/she is unaware of. They could make a piece of work that accurately reflects their hidden views, but does not reflect their conscious stance. Personally knowing Peggy, I would say that this view is also incorrect, and it might’ve taken a phone call to talk with her, to realize that she doesn’t harbor these kind of sentiments. Your bringing up the context and history of Missouri seems to hint at the fact that there are implicit factors going on here, which is why I think some people took offense.

    Third – You could say that while the artist is neither implicitly or explicitly racist, the object itself triggers “racists ideas”. It causes you to think and makes you feel certain uncomfortable realties about race. This could’ve happened because you might be particularly sensitive to seeing things through a racial lens, or perhaps the artist made an object that held a personal meaning for her, but a completely different unintended cultural meaning for someone else. In either case it seems the “racism” does not exist in the artist or in the object, but in the viewer’s interpretation.

  6. I say bravo to Peggy, and bravo to Alicia. Both. Peggy’s work has been about pushing taste and culture to the brink of ugly for years, this falls in line with her aesthetic perfectly. Her work lampoons all points of pop culture and power from the perspective of small town tacky America.(I get that. I’m from there.) Oprah is a power figure, she is AUTHORITY compared with Nolan. Peggy is lampooning Oprah’s pop culture power. From the perspective of class Peggy is the underdog lampooning an iconic figure whose media power to affect other women’s bodies and pocket book is HUGE. Peggy is also making fun of the fashion industry and its obsession with “good taste” and “high class”.
    Alicia- good to call it out, good to say hey- this is ugly. Good to say “this work is problematic because….” Good to say a white woman has no business using a black body to make money. Yes. I have not been able to look at that work without a strange feeling in my gut for days now.. I applaud you for calling out history, and race and the implications of this work. These are conversations we should have. And it is on op-ed piece and you state your opinions and ideas clearly without kowtowing to what people think is “cool”. Bravo. Artists should be critical and look at their work and its larger implications culturally- always. And maybe that is Peggy’s point. That there is a very deep discomfort we have with each other and our bodies. Glad she made the work to think about. Glad you wrote the piece to think about. And oh goodness I just noticed something. Is Peggy standing in front of a watermelon clothing rack? oh goodness……

  7. THE TRUE RACIST IS the naked lady which this artist depicted in the article.
    THAT NAKED LADY showed herself to be a hypocritical racist when she called for THE DEATHS OF A LOT OF SOUTHERN WHITE FOLKS to solve racism in America!
    P! U!
    The Queen has no clothes!

  8. First of all, thank you for the insightful and relevant article!

    It is, however, unfortunate that this stunt got the attention that it did, here on Hyperallergic. One tremendous power that is wielded in the fields of cultural production — including the art world — is the power to ignore. Perhaps there was some interesting work by a man or woman of color that could have been highlighted, instead of giving more fame and notoriety to this project.

    Although I agree with the sentiment of the piece, Noland received exactly what she wanted: attention. I didn’t know her name, before. Thanks to this article, for better or worse, now I do. I could learn about the work of an artist of color I didn’t know, instead.

    Perhaps Noland wouldn’t pull this type of stunt if she were treated like many artists of color: Ignore her, and she might go away.

    1. For someone who sounds concerned about the dehumanization of others, you have an interesting read on what motivates people. You seem to be saying that Peggy is happy that people online are referring to her work as “racist” because “any press is good press”. To me, this seems to be an incredibly shallow view, not only of Peggy but of humanity in general. To assert the idea that people are opportunistic and are not emotionally affected and devastated when the work they put out into the world is misinterpreted, is in my mind, dehumanizing, not of a specific category of people, but to everyone.

      1. Thanks, Jori!

        I stand by what I said because I think that the only other option, regarding Peggy’s motives, would be to assume that the she created the project with a complete lack of knowledge about how it might affect or dehumanize people of color, or at least incite conversation — which it most certainly has — given the historical relationship that America has to African-American bodies. I doubt that she was that naive.

        And, again, we are talking about Peggy and her products. Generating this conversation is imperative in a crowded marketplace, for a brand to gain attention and, subsequently, sales. So, no, I don’t think the work was misinterpreted, at all. It’s out there and getting attention for her products. That is her job. The cost of possible marginalization of people of color, it seems to me, is collateral for this process to work. Historical patterns and prejudices are exploited for the reward of attention. This process is frequently amoral in its strategies.

        1. You assume that since you use the macro-scale lens of viewing things through a racial historical context, that Peggy and everyone else does as well. This is an assumption. You are essentially saying, “since this is the way I see things and interpret objects, then this is the way everyone sees things and interprets objects.” But of course, there is only one good way to clear up an issue like this, and that is to talk to Peggy and ask her, “What were your intentions?” She specifically laid out what her intentions were, which were related to celebrity and body image. Asking her to go more in depth about it would be a good start. Including her in the dialogue and getting the actual response seems more helpful, as opposed to creating an imaginary version of her, and then pasting our preconceptions onto it.

          1. Great argument, Jori!

            This has been a fantastic conversation, but this will be my last post on this topic. I have other things to do….

A creator of cultural products should know that if they are in a position for their work to be seen by a large or dedicated audience, that the original intentions are lost AS SOON AS the work is “released” for evaluation or consumption. This is why they call it a “release.” 

Peggy would have to set up a dedicated phone or chat line to explain her intentions to every person who comes across her work. This is one of the costs of having a platform for your work to be received by more than a few people. 

Yes, Jori, you are 100% correct that an individual might think: “since this is the way I see things and interpret objects, then this is the way everyone sees things and interprets objects.” You might be surprised that MANY people feel this way, and, perhaps you, as well.

            The benefit of having a large number of people interpret and talk about your work comes with the cost of people misinterpreting it. Any creative person should be prepared for this situation. Someone who loves animal prints could easily argue that the skin depicted on the dresses is not “leopard-y” enough. And however off-base the opinion might be, the creator makes him or herself vulnerable to any criticism or praise, from the vast array of unique viewpoints that are assessing the product. Intentions become immediately less relevant when a product or action is exposed to the public.

            I suggest — if you haven’t done so already — to get at least ten people to comment upon some creative work you’ve done. You’ll most likely get ten very different answers, and you will quickly tire of attempting to explain your intentions to each of them.

            Thanks for an interesting thread!

          2. So your argument seems to say that an artist is not responsible for the viewer’s multiple interpretations, which I agree with. There is no way for an artist to anticipate or control the myriad of responses that their work can bring. However, as the multiplicity of cultural meaning unfolds, a good reference point for the conversation is the artist’s original intent. As the conversation becomes more complex and as those differing meanings push against each other, the original intent of the artist is relevant information, as it can sometimes act as a compass to help us wander down some of the moral paths that these conversations often take us.

            Just because it is not present in the initial experience of the viewer, does not mean it is inconsequential. Original intent is not there to change the viewer’s interpretation, or to say that there is one correct way to see things (such as asserting that everyone has to see things only through the macro cultural racial lens). It is there as a means for comparison, so a viewer, if they so choose, does not have to remain isolated in their one-point perspective.

            If I got ten people together in a room to show them something I made, I am sure that one, if not all of them would ask me, “Why did you make this?” “What is it?” “What does it mean to you?” These are normal human questions we ask each other when we are presented with new information, and ones that shouldn’t be discounted.

            Good conversation.

  9. Nice article. But, I’m truly surprised that anyone above the age of 19, and not currently in art school, would think that this dress is in any way worth the cloth it was printed on. The “message” is clearly juvenile and lazy.

    Hasn’t Oprah been attacked since the early 90s in art schools across America? I was at Center for Creative Studies in Detroit in the very early 1990s and saw goth kids using her image to represent “sell out” culture or to somehow “comment” on racism, etc. I honestly can’t believe people get mileage out of her image in this way still. It’s lazy.

    And, sorry, but after looking at Noland’s other “works”, they’re lazy too. She’s a lazy pop artist cranking out stuff for celebs. Anyone with an iota experience in the artworld knows that you get to her place by 99% schmoozing and 1% luck.

  10. This article is a problematic rant that may have had validity if someone had edited the authors unrelated connections. I will only mention one:
    The tragic murders of the young African American mentioned has nothing to do with this art. Correlating the two in my opinion, is rather disrespectful to the survivors, and the deceased.

  11. Funny, when I look at the shirts I don’t see a “black” woman, I see a woman of varying body sizes, which really was what Oprah was legendary for. I’m wondering if the artist is really commenting on Oprah perpetuating the “We all must be a size 4” myth. There are a million and one shirts out there w/a caucasian woman’s “sexy” body on it w/no head that older or bigger women can buy as an alleged joke.

    Personally, I think any shirt stating that you have to have that body type as offensive and wouldn’t buy it myself. But really, I don’t see a fashion designer as an artist making a statement anyway.

  12. This story is sad and the dress is insulting. As an African American woman, I would like to see the story taken down. The artist/designer doesn’t deserve anymore attention. I am tired of seeing my people treated like objects and disrespected. This has effected young people where they are simply lost and confused. Folks are bombarded with just too many messages and images for them to filter. I support technology and I enjoy how it has revolutionized the world but there are some negative aspects to deal with and this is one.

  13. I guess it wouldn’t have drawn Peggy Noland the attention and controversy she craves if she had put her own naked body (head included) on the dress instead.

  14. So while you’re berating this as racist and close-minded, try not to sound just as ignorant and shortsighted…
    “The same applies to Peggy Noland, whose style is clearly influenced by growing up in Independence, Missouri, where slavery was once legal. Missouri, a former border state, was admitted to the Union as a slave-holding state in 1821. This is where the notorious Dred Scott decision went down. Nowadays, there’s a place called Slave Plantation in Independence that people can conveniently check into on Foursquare. It’s a wonder that, considering the history of her hometown, Noland is ignorant of the racial implications in her work, as evidenced in an interview with New York Magazine.”
    You’re saying because Missouri once tolerated slavery we’re all racists? Good point… Except that it isn’t. I can’t even be offended by these comments anymore because they’re just so fucking unintelligent.

  15. Racism is different from prejudice. The artist does not have the ability to harm Oprah Winfrey in any way, though that may have been one of her intents. By her accumulation of unearned capital Oprah has removed herself from the role of downtrodden victim. Both women need to do some explaining.

    1. She could be harming Oprah emotionally. Or are you one of the people in this world who don’t believe that mental health is at least as important as physical health

  16. everyone shut up. this isnt racist. you only think its racist because you want to see it that way and/or think being black is a bad thing all on its own. this is a dress with oprah on it. thats ALL it is. stop being so offended by your own anatomy.

    1. It’s Oprah’s head stuck onto other black women’s naked bodies. The definition of racism is “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics
      or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as
      inferior or superior to another race or races.” By depicting someone as nude without their permission, with their head simply attached to other black women’s body, could be interpreted as a way of humiliating the subject. I am sure Oprah could very well feel humiliated by seeing her head plastered on some random woman’s body… What is this supposed to say “I’m every woman” or some garbage like that… I don’t know or care if it’s racist to me, but you’re willfully ignorant to not see where people who believe it is racist are getting that idea.

      1. i see how this could be humiliating for oprah. but is it racist. no.
        if they had done this to a Caucasian celebrity no one would think it was racist.
        this is so far from being racist I cannot even believe it.

        1. for a white woman to think its ok to ‘try on’ blackness is racism. black people aren’t offended by their own bodies, the offence comes from having black bodies treated as if they are visual objects, as if they are just a medium for the white woman’s ‘art’.

          its racist because it’s a white woman taking agency and making money off a black woman’s body/image, with no benefit to the black woman involved. in fact you could say it deliberately will harm the black woman involved by objectifying her.

          racism = prejudice + power so no, it wouldn’t be racist if it were a white woman. it would however be sexist!

  17. Tasteless? Yes. Racist? No. The only people who seem to see racism here are those who are either truly racist, those who are quick to jump and accuse other people of racism, or both.

    Could white people just stop telling us what’s racist and not racist? All this white arrogance is just as racially motivated as real racism, which I don’t really see here.

  18. Strangely representing a kind of body dysmorphic disorder. The scale of the ‘heads’, the placement of just about every body part is disquieting. It doesn’t bring any new ideas about Oprah Winfrey, or make me think anything in particular about Oprah Winfrey.

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