Last night on America’s Next Top Model, Tyra took the final 6 models to Hawaii, where they underwent ‘transformations’ to embody two distinct ethnic heritages for a ‘hapa’-inspired photo shoot.

Since the final photos of the models–who each donned darker hair, painted skin, and color-corrective contact lenses to take on the various ethnic looks–hit the web yesterday, a debate is waging about whether the photo shoot is an intentional publicity stunt (perhaps meant to play off of French Vogue’s recent Blackface spread that sparked much outrage), an innocent (and some might say successful) attempt to celebrate Hawaii’s diversity, or just another poorly advised photo shoot from Ms. Banks, just as insulting in its ignorant conception as its offensive execution.

After all, it’s not the first time Tyra has come under fire for telling her ANTMmodels to act out something in poor taste–and thistime, without so much as a word during the show about the possiblerepercussions of putting white models in exotic costumes and darkmakeup. Such a stunt treads dangerous ground–even for Tyra, who frequently breaches the topic of race on her talk show and often firmly, openly denounces behavior she believes is discriminatory. As a black woman, does she have greater license to commission such work?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that Tyra has a greater responsibility than most–especially as a role model to young women–to encourage education and respect among women of all cultures. It’s certainly not for me to say whether Tyra’s intentions with this photo shoot were to do so or not, especially because such an argument is squarely beside the point. It’s the result we should be concerned about–as in, how Tyra’s many diverse viewers–Black, White, Asian, Latina, and everyone in between–responded to the ‘hapa’ photo shoot.

Did you find the photo shoot inspiring, beautiful, and celebratory–or insulting, offensive and demeaning of other cultures?

Are people just being too sensitive–or was a little more sensitivity needed in avoiding this tasteless stunt?

-Meghan Carlson, BuddyTV Staff Writer
Image courtesy of the CW

Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.