Percem Akin is a makeup artist from Turkey who recently received a ton of backlash on the internet after she transformed herself into a black woman for Halloween. On her bio on Instagram, it said that she is a self-taught SFX makeup artist and she was also the winner of the NYX PM FaceAwards Turkey 2017. She is also a professional Beauty-SFX makeup artist.
Her Instagram shows her doing a variety of makeup from gore, to pirates, to skeletons.
But her most recent one as a black woman incurred a whole bunch of wrath online. Akin told the Independent that this “look” was for a character in a movie and also added that this wasn’t her design. “People prefer to see only racism in my work not pure beauty,” she told the publication. “This is just a movie character, and the movie which is directed by some poor students in my country, Turkey. We are not living in America or Africa, in my country finding a black model is so difficult, and they (directors) created a character for this movie and I made this. If I hurt the people like that, I am sorry but I never meant this to be racist work.”
Percem posted a video on YouTube of a makeup tutorial on how to “turn” into a black woman. She also added to the look by wearing a headscarf and creating scars on her face.
As if doing blackface wasn’t bad and controversial enough she decided to post some hashtags which only stoked the fire.
The caption read: ‘color and pain. My lovely black beauty transformation makeup.’ Some of the hashtags that she used included: #blackwoman #slave #sadmakeup #100days of makeup.
Rightfully so, the internet got mad and lambasted her pictures. Comments on her video and Instagram forced her to take down both the picture and the video.
She tried to later defend herself by saying that the look was for a movie but the damage was already done.
She posted on Instagram: ‘I was simply not aware and ignorant of the fact that ‘blackface’ makeup was used as a tool of oppression and ridicule in the dark times of contemporary history.’
Blackface was created as a derogatory stereotype where white entertainers would wear black paint on their face as a form of ridicule and racism up until not very long ago.
But in an interview with Buzzfeed, Percem, who lives in Turkey, said: ‘I never thought that this was racist while I was doing this. I just try to see pure beauty behind the pain who have it.’
However, some people argue that claiming ignorance isn’t good enough. Zeba Blay who is a writer at the Huffington Post, went to her blog to share her frustration.
‘At this point, it has been thoroughly established on nearly every corner of the internet that blackface is bad. The information is out there. It’s all over Facebook timelines, and Twitter feeds.’
She continued: ‘therefore, anyone who willfully chooses to don blackface this Halloween is making a concerted effort to be stubbornly ignorant.’
After deleting all of her social media accounts for nearly two weeks, she went back online and offered her apology. Although the original images and videos have been removed, her apology still remains present.