Boglarka Balogh, a Hungarian human rights lawyer and journalist has caused a furore on the internet after publishing controversial pictures interpolating her own face on to those of African women from seven different ethnic groups.
Balogh received widespread criticism and accused of cultural appropriation, which involves “the adoption of aspects of a culture that are not one’s own”. While Balogh’s intentions were seemingly good, meant to raise awareness of “secluded cultures,” the journalist has received backlash from various circles for inappropriately representing the ethnic groups and cultures.
In a project, “I Morphed Myself Into Tribal Women To Raise Awareness Of Their Secluded Cultures,” Balogh reportedly wanted raise awareness on her experiences in various Africa countries to expose, “endangered tribes, and the speed at which they are fading away”.
Following the criticism, the human rights lawyer deleted the post and posted an apology. According to the Guardian, Balogh wrote: “My intention was 100% pure with this tribal art, being a human right [sic] lawyer and journalist who knows pretty much about racism and similar issues. I have never imagined that my work will annoy so many people and that I will have to explain myself. And sure, I will not do that. Keep calm and love every human.”
However, the series of portraits continue to stimulate debate on social media with some comments supporting her actions. A Facebook user Arletta Scott Randolph wrote: “Instead of condemning this woman we should be applauding her. She is using her white privilege to bring attention to a serious issue for the African community…”.
Other commentators on social media believe Balogh could have raised the awareness on the plight of the endangered ethnic groups differently, by showing “the actual photos of the endangered tribes,” given the women a platform to share their lived experiences and stories or simply written about the issues without the perceived objectification.
Source: The Guardian