Back in April we told you all about Henry Cavill‘s new girlfriend, a studio exec named Natalie Viscuso.
A wildly inneresting fact about the 31-year-old? She was, once upon a time, a bit of a reality star, being featured on the MTV hit My Super Sweet 16. However, as embarrassed as one might be about that as an adult years later, it’s another reality TV experience that has the internet up in arms this week.
An old photo resurfaced showing Natalie in around 2008 — then just 18 years old — in what appears to be some kind of African tribal outfit, with her skin, well, dyed brown. See for yourself (below):
Oof, that’s a really bad look. As you can see, her body is painted, but not her face, so it’s not exactly blackface, but it certainly looks like it could be everything but blackface? So what the eff is going on??
Well, apparently this was part of another reality show Natalie filmed for MTV — one we guess never aired? — in which she was filmed spending time with a tribe in Namibia. We can only guess the premise of such a show; maybe rich American teens being shown the way other people live? Like a sort of Simple Life cultural exchange program? We may never know as the show apparently never made it to air.
But still, this one photo survived and was posted by a friend named Michael David Peschka, who shared it to his Facebook, where Natalie reposted it. Peschka was actually proud, writing:
“Still my favorite shot of Natalie, taken in Africa when she was there shooting a TV show. She took the time to make an advertisement promoting clean water for the people there.”
How would either of them not think this was offensive? Well, according to her, it was not makeup but Otjize, a pigment made from butterfat and ochre, something the Himba tribe put all over their skin to protect them from the harsh desert climate.
Speaking to DailyMail.com on Friday, Natalie explained she didn’t consider the act of wearing the pigment — which was something the tribe gave her to welcome her — as being cultural appropriation. However she apologized anyway for any offense caused how it looked. She said:
“Firstly, I’d like to say that I’m sorry if this image surfacing has caused any offense. It is a photo from 2008 for a TV show in Namibia. The tribe I was living with painted my skin as part of an initiation ceremony and an acceptance into their culture. Never in a million years did I think that this would be offensive, in fact, I felt honored that they would initiate me. However, with the lessons that we are all learning in today’s climate, it is important that I recognize that this is potentially hurtful. My deepest and most sincere apologies.”
That was not enough for some folks, who created a petition to get Cavill fired from The Witcher, even though this was 13 years before he started dating her.
What do YOU think? Was this an appropriate sharing of cultures? Was the whole MTV show problematic in the first place? Does Natalie’s apology work for you?? Let us know in the comments (below)!