When we look at this picture we are meant to embrace this esthetically beautiful family. But what are the hidden messages in this photo? As I discussed in an earlier post on Angelina, motherhood is only valued in this society when the mother is of a certain race and class. Angelinas position as a white woman of privilege makes her maternity desirable and pure. This message is reified in many ways in this photo. Take note that every single person is dressed in white.
Yes whiteness is good and works as a purifying agent. In whiteness we embrace the "light" and become not only normal, but valuable. How would the emotions triggered by this photograph change if this image involved a black family, or the uniformity of the clothing were changed? The choice of white is not at all accidental, we are meant to see Angelinas experience as an affirming one, and internalize the idea that under the most ideal conditions motherhood is to be celebrated. She is elevated amongst women not only for her class privilege, but for her unacknowledged whiteness.
I would like to draw your attention to little Shiloh in the corner of the photograph. Upon having a child many parents take a pictures just like this one. In fact I have a multitude of pictures of my oldest child holding my youngest child. They are just as staged as this photo. What is problematic about this picture is the child that was selected to hold the infant. As many are aware over the last few years Brad and Angelina have adopted children from across the globe, yet it is Shiloh that is on the front page welcoming the latest addition to the family. By choosing their white blonde child instead of one of their children of colour it helps to reaffirm that what makes this family valuable is the purity of its whiteness. It is intact and perfect because the bodies of colour have not disturbed it. They exist only in the peripheral imagination, quite invisible much in the same way POC are made invisible in the face of hegemonic whiteness. To involve her children of colour is to diminish the value of Angelinas whiteness for then her body would become a spoiled identity, tainted by the very blood of her children.
Daily we are inundated with such innocuous images of normalcy and domesticity. To embrace the white picket fence and the traditional family is to understand which bodies truly matter in this society. This photo reaffirms the racial hierarchy under which we all live. Though the labour of bodies of colour is necessary to support and maintain the system, they are continually erased, because to admit their presence is to embrace the social injustice that allows some to live in splendour and others in abject poverty and marginalization. Yes this is the post racial, equal society which we inhabit. It is important to note that its supposed blindness is based upon its refusal to validate bodies of colour.