R&B singer Beyoncé looks almost white wearing a blonde wig in a new glamour photo being used to promote the re-release of her fourth album 4. She reignites a controversy from 2008 when her skin appeared to be lightened in a cosmetics ad.
Normally, the photo might be chalked up to artistic license. But Beyoncé has been dogged over controversy about her skin tone going back to her early days with breakout group Destiny’s Child. Back then, her father and manager, Mathew Knowles, reportedly encouraged her to lighten her complexion.
She was the fairest skinned singer in the group and was able to launch successful solo career. Then, in 2008, Beyoncé became the subject of more controversy in a L’Oreal cosmetics ad. She appeared shades lighter than her natural color. The “whitewashing” was attributed to photoshopping, but the company denied altering the image.
The new photo was reportedly taken before the 30-year-old became pregnant last year. It shows her reclining on a leopard-print couch wearing a black knit monokini. The skin color may have been caused by the sepia-tone color of the photo.
Skin tone among African-Americans has long been a sensitive subject. Michael Jackson was often criticize for whitening his skin. But he claimed to have suffered from Vitiligo, a condition that causes patches of light skin.
Last February, Beyonce wore a blonde wig and looked unusually pale, causing African-American writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to charge that she was “betraying all Black and Asian women.”
“Too many black and Asian children grow up understanding the sad truth that to have dark skin is to be somehow inferior,” she wrote in London’s Daily Mail.
“When black celebrities appear to deny their heritage by trying to make themselves look white, I despair for the youngsters who see those images,” she added.