January Jones is just the latest star to boldly go where many celebrities have gone before her — into Racial Insensitivity Town. And while I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for the initial mistake of putting it up in the first place, it’s hard to have sympathy with the way she’s handling the fallout.
She posted a photo yesterday for Throwback Thursday of her very first paid modeling job, for a knitting magazine in South Dakota. Sounds pretty standard so far…except that this particular knitting magazine in South Dakota happened to be racially tone deaf, using this photo to promote tribal prints:
Yeah, that. Yikes. As commenters on the photo pointed out, it’s not necessarily discriminatory, but the juxtaposition of a beautiful white model with bare-chested black tribal members is ‘problematic’, particularly when you take the catalogue’s caption into account: ’an unexpected arrangement of color patterns’.
In regards to January Jones posting this in the first place, I’ll say what I always say when a celebrity does something racially or culturally insensitive — it doesn’t mean they’re racist, just that they’re dumb. In an ideal world, people would make a little noise about how they felt about the photo, and why they were offended, and January would be able to learn from that information. Maybe she’d be able to see the photo in a new light and understand why its racist overtones could rub people the wrong way, and we could all move forward with a little more knowledge in our brains.
But instead, she deleted the photo, scolded her followers for making a very legitimate (and in many cases well-worded) complaint about the photo, and swapped it out for another one from the same shoot, with the caption: I had to swap my #tbt pics because I was receiving to many negative comments and assumptions. #thisforumshouldbeahappyandfunplaceihavenopatienceforhate.
I can appreciate that January’s intention wasn’t to offend, but there’s a difference between ‘hate’ and genuine constructive feedback, and it says a lot that January is either unable or unwilling to take the time to figure that out.