Yeah, yeah ... we know, we know: Can we go five minutes without focusing on Cardi B? Ask the Russia-based manicurist who decided to go full Invasion of Privacy by reinterpreting the cover of the gold-selling album as 3D nail art, complete with a swiveling head.
It was an ambitious undertaking, elaborate and impressively executed, save for one detail: Replica Cardi is painted several shades darker than real Cardi. Nevertheless proud of their work, the folks at the “Nail_Sunny” salon—by its own account the “#1 Nail Art salon in Russia”—posted their work to the salon’s Instagram page, likely unprepared to face a slew of accusations of racism among their following of 1.6 million.
For us, the whole thing—from manicure to subsequent mayhem—prompted a few questions, which we’re going to attempt to address (in the style of our brother Damon Young at VSB):
By all appearances, the salon owners appear to be genuine fans of Cardi B, using her music as a soundtrack to display their handiwork (pun intended). They even look like they have black clients. And while it was likely edited after an outcry arose, in their accompanying caption, they do attempt to explain why the pigment dried darker than expected.
Verdict? On a scale of “blackface on Halloween” to “Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall,” we kind of shrugged this one off. Frankly, it’s hard to believe someone puts this kind of artistry into deliberately being racist.
Then again, we work at The Root, so we have that thought at least once a day.
Melanin overdose aside, this requires some serious skill. We can actually understand why they didn’t want to throw out the baby with the Bodak Yellow, since, while it’s not our personal cup of tea, it’s still nail-competition-winning-level work. With that in mind, on skill alone, we’re going to at least give it a solid (Cardi) B for effort. But seriously: Who’s wearing these?
Probably Cardi B, once they get her complexion right. That’s all I’ve got.
Granted, I’m a woman who spent her childhood wishing she were the complexion of Diana Ross and Natalie Cole, but let’s be honest: This isn’t exactly Cardi B in blackface. Aside from the major misstep on skin tone (which, really, they could’ve left unvarnished, as they’ve purportedly done when paying tribute to Kim Kardashian), it’s a pretty faithful rendering.
That said, we’ve become experts at calling out the “whitewashing” of black celebs when we see it, as well as whatever Kardashian thought she was doing here. So I suppose it’s only fair to call out the reverse.
The truth is, we have no idea what motivated these folks to execute this the way they did. And yes, these days, Russian motives tend to arouse suspicion. Maybe it was an honest mistake, or maybe we all look the same to them.
But their motives aside, what’s a tad troubling is the brouhaha itself. The technique undoubtedly failed, but the dispute over it veered into its own colorist cesspool. No, that ain’t Cardi B, but neither is dark skin, in the words of one commenter, “rude to our culture.”
Aside from choosing the right color in the first place, the minute these folks realized they’d cast Cardi B as Nina Simone, they simply should have started over ... which, according to a follow-up Instagram post, is exactly what they’ll be doing. But let this be a lesson to all of us: Some things just aren’t worth doing for the ’gram.
But seriously: Who’s wearing these?