It seems that a staffer with a smart ass sense of humor must have come across an extra blonde wig and sequined bodysuit in a storage closet at New York’s Madame Tussauds museum.
Otherwise, how else to explain the new “Beyoncé” wax figure that was displayed this week? What was supposed to be crafted in the likeness of the iconic superstar, has the fair skin tone and rail thin body shape of Lindsay Lohan.
When Madame Tussauds got dragged on Twitter—and not only Black Twitter, everyone had something to say—the world’s famous wax museum suggested that lighting and “flash photography” were to blame, in a statement.
But the reply ignored the fact that nothing about the statue was right. Did they hope we would ignore that people have been using flash photography to take pictures of brown-skinned wax figures for decade— and those all still looked Black?
This is–to use a word so obvious it feels lazy to even invoke it—whitewashing.
Madame Tussauds on multiple continents are full of wax figures that don’t strikingly resemble the famous person they are meant to be. But Beyoncé’s seems to be the only one that does not even look the same race. And that is a very different problem from the horror of what is Jennifer Aniston’s completely unrecognizable mannequin. This is–to use a word so obvious it feels lazy to even invoke it—whitewashing.
It happens all the time. There was ELLE magazine’s 2010 cover of a way light-skinned Gabby Sidibe. Kerry Washington is so frequently put on magazines covers looking like a different, lighter-shaded person that Mic.com put together a collection of offenders.
But Photoshop is a different creature than a lifesize mannequin made out of wax. Photoshop can wipe out melanin and Black features in minutes. Seconds, even. How long did it take to build “Beyoncé” on wax? We’ll never know, but after the outrage Madame Tussauds has attempted to remedy the problem, according to the New York Daily News, by “adjusting the lighting and styling of her figure.”
Apparently we should only visit wax Beyoncé when the sun has set if we want to see her in all of her brown skin, Black woman glory.