"The Illusionists" documentaryadvertisingchildrendiscriminationmedianew marketsprintracismresearchtoyswomen's magazines

New York Magazine: "The search for Malia and Sasha look-alikes to sell products"

By January 28, 2009 No Comments

Excerpt:

Madison Avenue is scrambling to adjust to a new era, when the most admired people in America are a black family. To reflect this reality, talent scouts are on the hunt for models who look like the Obama children, Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10.

[…]

Marlene Wallach, president of Wilhelmina Kids & Teens, says the First Daughters are tough subjects to match. “It’s a very specific age and a very specific ethnicity, so there aren’t that many girls that would necessarily fit the bill.”

Full article here.

On the one hand I’m deliriously happy to see that thanks to Barack Obama’s election racial minorities may get more visibility in the media – it’s about time!!! During my research for the docu “The Illusionists” I was positively surprised to see, in women’s magazines from the 1970s and the early 1980s (Vogue, Cosmo, Mademoiselle), lots and lots of black models in fashion/beauty photo shoots, advertisements, and on magazine covers. Why had they disapperared all of a sudden? The fashion industry had seemingly turned racist in the last 15-20 years. So: visibility of racial and ethnic minorities: awesomely positive.

On the other hand, though, I’m saddened that such a moving, historic milestone (the first ever black family in the White House) may get immediately mixed up with the usual base commercial interests – Sasha and Malia dolls with already developed breasts, photo shoots with Sasha and Malia lookalikes – to sell products. On top of that, the article above highlights a desire to see more Obama girls lookalikes – not more black children in fashion / advertising / mass media.

Don’t know how to feel about this…