The indigenous Mixtec actress nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Roma has set tongues wagging after she appeared in a photograph with a lighter than usual skin tone.
Yalitza Aparicio posted a photo to her social media accounts Monday in which she is holding a white Lenovo laptop as part of a campaign to promote the Chinese technology company.
But it was Aparicio’s pale skin rather than the laptop that grabbed the attention of many social media users.
Some said the lighting used for the photo had made her complexion appear much lighter than usual, while others argued that, in an act of blatant racism, her skin had been whitened digitally, with makeup, or by both.
“. . . They bleached Yalitza in this photo for Lenovo, the only things we should bleach are clothes and sheets,” one Twitter user wrote.
Nigorette, a fashion photographer and photography teacher, also said the image of Aparicio had been digitally manipulated to make her appear whiter, an act she said “breaks all professional ethics of [image] retouchers.”
The photographer told the newspaper Milenio that it was evident that a front light had been used for the photo but added that it was equally obvious that it had been digitally altered, pointing out that the skin tone on Aparicio’s hand didn’t match that of her face and that her hair had turned “almost gray.”
Nigorette explained: “It’s necessary to understand that skin is a reflective surface, and in that sense, if we want to represent a person as he or she is, we have to manipulate . . . the brightness in a way that [the person’s skin] recovers a little bit of its natural luminosity, tone and texture . . . The last thing we expect is for the media to fall into the typical error of racist ‘beautification.’”
At a Lenovo event yesterday, Aparicio admitted that her image had been retouched but said she wasn’t bothered by her skin tone being altered.
The 25-year-old actress, who before being cast in Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma was a teacher in her home town of Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, has broken new ground for indigenous women by appearing on the cover of Vogue México and being only the second Mexican actress after Salma Hayek to earn a best-actress nomination at the Academy Awards.
In an interview with Milenio, Aparicio described her excitement and disbelief when she found out about the nomination.
“I couldn’t believe it, I simply let myself cry with emotion . . . Thanks to all the critics who considered me to compete in this category because I, at least, hadn’t expected it,” she said.
Aparicio also said that her role as Cleo, a domestic worker, in Roma had helped to highlight that such workers deserve the same labor rights as anyone else.
“I ask for them [to be given] the respect that they deserve, that their work be recognized with dignity because it’s a job that is very important within [people’s] homes,” she said.
Asked whether she would ever go back to being a teacher, Aparicio responded:
“I don’t know what the future has in store, I only know that everything I’m doing now is going to be reflected in that future. If I get the opportunity to make another movie, great. If not, I’ll have the opportunity to return to the classroom and . . . pursue my career [as a teacher], which is something that I’ve always loved.”
Source: Milenio (sp)