Insensitive, offensive, and politically incorrect and tone-deaf. These are some of the words that have been used to describe the couple’s latest prenuptial photos. They were accused of using Ethiopians as props and backgrounds, and we can’t help but agree.
The photographer, Oly Ruiz defended his work and the couple’s artistic decision by claiming that they were highlighting the country’s culture. Not exoticizing it. Yet, the execution of the photos highlight but one thing: Crawford and Garcia’s opulence in contrast to the poverty of the people around them.
The best example to prove this is that one picture with the Ethiopian mother and child. Dressed in a luxurious gown and a floral suit, Garcia and Crawford struck a power couple pose while an Ethiopian mother carrying her child stood in the background. This sent out one clear message: “Look at us. Aren’t we beautiful? Dolled up in these designer clothes influenced by a culture we neither belong to or understand.”
There is no interaction with their surroundings, no acknowledgement of the folks they were supposedly helping through exposure. What were once people became nothing but things, a backdrop to emphasize the couple’s beauty and romance through placing them in stark contrast with the starving poor of Ethiopia?
Did you know that Ethiopia has relatively low rates of educational enrollment, access to sanitation, and attended births? Not to mention the challenge that the country is facing when it comes to the safety and education of its women and girls. Also, more than 94.7 percent of the country’s population earn less than two dollars per day, and this is a direct contributor to the widespread undernourishment and lack of proper living conditions of Ethiopia’s children.
All of that is what these photos dismiss. All in the name of glamour.
Another factor that comes into play is the fact that these two are both half-white, a mestizo and mestiza. Privilege is their birthright, and the fact that they got to do a shoot in another country is in itself a display of said privilege. Using those who are suffering through poverty as a backdrop is just rubbing it in our faces.
As jaw-dropping as these pictures may be, the beauty is overwhelmed by how problematic they are. To avoid any future incidents like this, might we suggest giving thisarticle on how to take photos in Africa a quick read?