Yesha Callahan

Seriously? White Woman Photoshops Herself to Look African to ‘Raise Awareness Of Secluded Cultures’


After spending time in Africa, Boglarka Balogh, a Hungarian journalist, wanted share the beauty of the continent and its diverse people. While she could have gone about it in any number of ways–snapping photographs, making a film, documenting her experience on social media–Balogh chose a completely different path: digital black face.

Balogh worked with a graphic designer to darken her skin, change her hair texture, and don the traditional garb of seven different African ethnic groups to “raise awareness of their secluded cultures.”


“I became fully aware of the issues regarding a number of endangered tribes, and the speed at which they are fading away,” she explained. “These stunning portraits show how beauty varies across the globe and prove that all of us are beautiful in a different way. They’re celebrating stunning tribal beauties at the brink of extinction.”


While Balogh’s goal may have been admirable, photoshopping herself to look “African” was a terrible, terrible idea. Moreover, to assume that she alone had to do this to raise awareness about “secluded cultures”–presumably because no one else had?–was also presumptuous, wrong, and hella white.

Anthropologists, social scientists, photographers, and travelers have all documented remote cultures and people long before Balogh stumbled onto them, so this “project” does little more than center her, a privileged white woman, not the cultures she’s hoping to promote.

  1. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    I think that this is an example of a foreigner being tone deaf on US race relations…

  2. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Ironically all her photoshopped pics look better than her original

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply



    • January 6, 2016 - Reply


      LOL x 2.

    • January 7, 2016 - Reply


      Good thing I scrolled down and saw your comment because I was about to write that she looked better as the ‘African’…..loooooool!!!!…..they always have to be at the center… she’s the first White to go to Africa and take pictures.

  3. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    White saviour complex, like she is the only person aware of this issue. Why did she feel the need to Photoshop? I swear white liberals are on some power trip when it comes to respecting cultures. Is she even aware of the US’s part in the destruction of parts of Africa? I think not. She’s the type of woman that’s sees hungry African children on the TV and wants to save them, plans a trip and uploads to social media, ta-dah I fixed their issues. Marshmallows please stop the fuckery for at least a day, or maybe half a day is that to much to ask?

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply


      “Marshmallows please stop the fuckery”

      That did it for me LOL!

    • January 7, 2016 - Reply


      LOL @ Marshmallows ?

  4. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    She can bring light to the beautiful cultures of Africa in many different ways other than her action. As others have mentioned here, this is an example of arrogance, of overt cultural appropriation, and of inaccuracies. She is not black and these images are not images of black people. Therefore, she trivialized the experiences of African tribes by going through this route. Back in the day, we called this action, the “white person’s burden.” Today, we call it the “white savior complex.” We don’t need white “saviors.” We need black empowerment and more black self-determination. Cultural respect goes a long way too. There are serious problems of the Western exploitation of African resources, the issue of neo-colonialism, and the other complex issues of the African continent. Also, it is important for us to have a concrete, progressive awareness of Africa. The more that we learn about Africa, the more we learn about ourselves as black people. Our love for Africa is eternal.

  5. January 6, 2016 - Reply


  6. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    …but what she did was counterproductive. Would it have made more sense if she would have photograph ACTUAL members of the tribes while giving information about their culture/regions.

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply


      Yep, Binks. She made it about HER, not them!

    • January 7, 2016 - Reply


      Yup, you took the words right out of my mouth!!

  7. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    I also take issue with her comments that these cultures are on the “brink of extinction.” I mean, my anthro degree is fifteen years old and I still remember how completely academically and morally wrong it is to characterize contemporary living people as “living fossils” who belong to “exotic” (read primitive) cultures that must be saved for our aesthetic enjoyment. That’s some early 20th century colonial bs right there.

  8. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Lawd! Save us from the dreaded “white savior”

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell


  9. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    dr. frances cress welsing was so right

    • January 7, 2016 - Reply


      I am kind of starting to understand Dr. Cress Welsing a little after this article.

      • January 7, 2016 - Reply

        @Mary Burrell

        i feel dr. welsing gave black people an idea of what we were/are up against and, most importantly, an explanation as to why we are the objects of such unreasonable hatred. she is/was an inspiration.

  10. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Well, she did make us aware of her stupidity, so we can’t be that mad at her.

  11. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    she looks terrible

  12. January 7, 2016 - Reply

    “dear diary,

    a week has yet to bloom in 2016 and already the fuckery is…”

  13. January 7, 2016 - Reply

    Stupid woman. Who told her the cultures are ‘secluded’? I guess it’s the prayer of people like her that African ethnic groups/ culture will go extinct so that she can build her career off our backs & win awards being our ‘white savior’. Sorry honey, we’re not going anywhere. Been here since the dawn of creation, been here despite the attempts by colonizers to wipe us out & wipe out our culture & we’re going to be here after your 15 minutes of fame is up & no one remembers your silly photos anymore.

    • January 7, 2016 - Reply

      @Queen Ekuba

      Bows to Queen Ekuba

      • January 7, 2016 - Reply

        @Mary Burrell

        Thank you Sister Mary. The gall of these people…. grrr!

  14. January 7, 2016 - Reply

    Oh my Lord! Please put a hand in this situation!

  15. January 7, 2016 - Reply

    So why are they endangered? She makes it sound like they are some sort of animal species. These are human beings. What is threatening their existence?

    • January 7, 2016 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell

      Great Point Sister.

  16. January 7, 2016 - Reply

    She just wanted an excuse to be in blackface.

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