‘White Girl’s Perspective’ on ‘Trophy Scarves’: It’s Important

What kind of person poses naked as a human accessory? One who wants to send a message to women like herself.

Nate Hill and Janet Mercel
Nate Hill and Janet Mercel Nate Hill

JM: I think it specified petite white girl, not verbatim but it certainly was something that you had to be somewhat small, and it did specify “white.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything [about a project having a racial message]. Then Nate and I started talking via email a little and then when I saw his name I recognized his work. He was totally forthcoming about his goal with the project. I’d heard of some of his previous projects so I thought it would be something wildly controversial.

But I trusted him completely when it came to his art, and I figured wherever he wanted to go, I was comfortable.

TR: And what’s your understanding of his goal?

JM: He was trying to draw attention to a certain culture, this longstanding thing where successful black men think of skinny little white women as just another accessory as a bottle service or a car. Your identity doesn’t really matter. One girl is the same as the next. You’re just a white girl, and that’s all that matters. So he was getting that across.

TR: Do you agree that that’s common or that that’s a fair characterization?

JM: Certainly not all of them, but I do think that’s there, for sure. As I mentioned I was modeling and acting when I was younger, and there was definitely a certain kind of man who wanted to date, you and it didn’t really matter who you were as long as under 100 pounds and blonde …

I did wonder, is this really a point that needs to be made? Do people still think about these things or care about these things? My husband was like, yeah, a lot of people are still racist.

TR: So do you consider it racist if someone’s dating choices are informed by the kinds of priorities you mentioned?

JM: It’s not necessarily racism. I see it more as classism, because there are a lot of men and women who do that and they don’t have to be black. It doesn’t have to be race. Something behind those choices that’s deeper and possibly insidious. It doesn’t have to be racist, though; sometimes that’s just a personal preference.

TR: How will it hit people who are in interracial relationships like the ones Hill is scrutinizing with this project?