Fashion Discussion: Black Men as Props

by Guest Contributor Claire, originally published at The Fashion Bomb

I was cruising on one of my favorite fashion editorial sites, Fashion Gone Rogue, when I happened upon this February/March 2011 cover of Russh Magazine featuring Delfine Bafort:

Delfine Cover

The Belgian model is surrounded by a group of adoring black men, who all seem to be looking at her lustfully. Her white dress, blonde tresses, and aloof stare contrasts markedly with their dark naked skin and enraptured looks.


The shoot seemed very reminiscent of other editorials I’ve seen in the past few years:

Mode Matthias

Vriends 2

Vriends 3

Alessandra Ambrosio, Rob Evans, and TaeJahn Taylor by Matthias Vriens-McGrath for Numero Tokyo January/February 2011.

Chanel & men

Chanel & men 2

Chanel Iman for Elle Italia October 2010.

Giselle & Men 1

gisele bite

Gisele Bundchen by Sølve Sundsbø.

Black men being used as props is nothing new. Remember slavery?

In 2011, I think it’s past time to let these tropes go, don’t you think?

Related: Gisele Bündchen’s Photo Shoot is a Study in Interpreting Racially Charged Images, LeBron James as King Kong on cover of Vogue?

(Image Source: Fashion Gone Rogue)

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.

Use the "for:racialicious" tag in to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.

Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.

Follow Us on Twitter!

Support Racialicious

The Octavia Butler Book Club

The Octavia Butler Book Club
(Click the book for the latest conversation)

Recent Comments

Feminism for Real – Jessica, Latoya, Andrea

Feminism for Real

Yes Means Yes – Latoya

Yes Means Yes

Sex Ed and Youth – Jessica

Youth and Sexual Health


Online Media Legal Network

Recent Posts

Support Racialicious

Older Archives


Written by:

  • Anonymous

    It should be noted that male models in general are used as props and are often half naked. What makes it racist is how the black men are placed in a overly sexual and overly masculine way.

    I have seen slim and non-muscular white male models. However whenever they use black models he is very buff and hyperexualized. I mean the chainned black male is offensive.

  • Medusa


    No, I don’t think it’s just you. Asian/Latino/White male models seem to have a completely different standard right now than Black male models. Not entirely sure what the reason is…to still subtly portray black men as overly fertile and threatening?

    • umm…what

      Perhaps, but there is also the connection of muscle to athletic performance and the belief that blacks are more adept to sports than members of other races due to our supposedly uniform set of physical characteristics. It’s like there’s some sort of screen that filters out all of the non-athletic black males from the public consciousness, leaving a race of Ronnie Coleman’s (google him for a kick) in the collective psyche of the American mainstream. I know that as a teenager, I was certainly aware that in order for me to be considered passingly attractive as a black male, I would need a statuesque physique.

  • Angela

    Male models in general are always used as props. Its not race…

    • Angel H.

      It is race when a Black male model is dressed in a loincloth and held by chain by a White female model. Also, fashion photographers are notorious for using all POC as background props in fashion editorials. This isn’t some new phenomenon.

    • Juan

      I think you’re visitin the wrong site then or not payin attention


  • Ankhesen Mié

    Make me yak….

  • Jessica Isabel

    Tyra Banks did this sort of photo shoot on an episode of AMNT way back… I think it was in the earlier seasons. I’m not surprised, but lack of surprise doesn’t in any way augment my disgust. Fashion in general just spawns this enormous amount of objectification, dehumanization, and racism/sexism/all other isms as a whole. It’s hard to find a magazine that would feature people of all genders, all colors, all ages, all abilities, all sexual orientations, all religions (et al.) modelling clothing in a respectable way.

  • Anonymous

    it’s really shocking more people aren’t up in arms about this…

  • Medusa

    You know, I was just thinking about the Gisele shoot last night. Then I saw the first picture in this post and that “Again??” I’m so fucking sick of this shit. Black people aren’t actual people, we’re just props or even worse, commodities to be used and discarded once “normal” people are done satisfying their fetishes.

  • AngryBroomstick

    I have to say that it’s not really the same when a black female model (Chanel Iman) is next alongside a black man. I don’t see it as objectifying– whereas it’s much more disturbing, racist, and objectifying to see a white woman being surrounded by black men, or even worse, a white woman dominating a black man (yuck). becaase you know, white women are prized above all other women of races and ethnicites!! *rolls eyes* Barf.

  • umm…what

    Is it just me or does it seem that the standard degree of muscularity for black males in fashion is set higher?

    • Juan

      Didn’t you know? Black men come only in one shape: muscular. Anything else and you’re just imagining things /snark

  • Guest

    There was also an editorional called The Black Allure in Vogue Italia. You can see pictures here:

    • Kat

      I don’t see how this relates to the topic at hand at all. The topic is the use of Black men as props…

  • ch555x

    Fashion industry jumping sharks, perhaps?