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A Woman Using Blackface To Raise Awareness Of Tribal Women Is Surprised People Are Offended

Hungarian journalist Boglarka Balogh told BuzzFeed News that she doesn't think blackface is offensive in her country because it doesn't have the same history with it that the United States does.

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Two weeks ago, a Hungarian journalist named Boglarka Balogh posted an article on Bored Panda headlined “I Morphed Myself Into Tribal Women To Raise Awareness Of Their Secluded Cultures,” which has since been deleted.

As the post started getting shared on Facebook, it met immediate criticism. Jezebel wrote about Balogh's project, calling it the "least honorable project in the history of stupid stupid racist bullshit."

"I think that the attention this received across the pond is out of proportion, but mainly I just laugh at people's obtuseness and the fact that these days we must inject politics into everything in order to sell," Balogh told BuzzFeed News.

She said the negative reaction, particularly from Americans on Facebook, confused her.

Courtesy of Boglarka Balogh

When her project was released on Hungarian news site 24.hu, commenters called her "migrant lover" and said she's a "liberal vegan-lesbian who does not fit in with whites."

Balogh said her work was modeled after a photo project from August, in which journalist Esther Honig had her picture photoshopped in different countries to study different cultures' perceptions of beauty.

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Honig, who reached out to BuzzFeed News after Balogh cited her project as an inspiration, said her work is "inherently different" because she completely left it up to the designers she solicited to transform her face.

"Whatever the results are, it's inherently in their hands," Honig said. "It's revealing about what other people are seeing and thinking...I really feel [Balogh's project] kind of took that vulnerability or that opportunity for risk or chance completely off the table. This was someone who thought their face melded with the faces of people of color made their face more interesting."

Priscilla Yuki Wilson, a biracial journalist who replicated Honig's project with an image of her own face last year, echoed Honig's thoughts. "There was nothing that [Balogh's] face served by being included in this project," Wilson told BuzzFeed News

“I was just presumably not aware how sensitive this subject is and how something can have a completely different meaning a thousand or two thousand kilometers away than in Hungary,” Balogh said.

Though the pictures have now been removed from her post, Balogh said that the Bored Panda editors stood by her and told her not to take the post down. Bored Panda did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

"I would only willingly pay attention to negative comments from those who themselves have volunteered for months either at home, or in Csaba Böjte's orphanage in Deva, or in third-world countries the same way I have done," she said.

Balogh said that she has received many positive comments about her project, though she has now pulled down the photos from Bored Panda, saying, "I have never imagined that my work will annoy so many people and that I will have to explain myself."

UPDATE

This story has been updated to include comments from Esther Honig and Priscilla Yuki Wilson.

Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ryan Broderick at ryan@buzzfeed.com.

Anita Badejo is an associate features editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Anita Badejo at anita.badejo@buzzfeed.com.

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