Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fashion Is Still Racist


In the July 2008 issue of Vogue, there was a story called, "Is Fashion Racist?" and to me Italian Vogue's All Black Issue proved that it is.

I love the intentions of Italian Vogue and their hard work at trying to give black models more attention in the industry, which obviously worked because the issue actually sold out and is being reprinted by demand. And I applaud them for that.

However, while reading about this, I couldn't help but think, "Why in the year 2008, is this still going on?" There's something that was so icky, so depressing about this subject that bothered me. It wasn't about anything in the issue or any of the stories; the thing that was bothering me was the fact that we have to have an All Black Issue. The fact that we have to even talk about racism is saddening. And it's not just with fashion.

Think about Black History Month, we do it to raise attention towards black people and to remember the history, but isn't black history part of American history? Doesn't it seem even more racist to separate black history from everything else and only celebrate it during one month? I think this is sort of what's happening to fashion too; in order to get everyone's attention about colored models and such, we have to actually separate them to get people to think.

As I wrote before, their intentions were completely good when making the All Black Issue or Black History Month or whatever, but as long as these types of issues or remembrances exist, so will racism. Models of all colors should be gracing the pages of magazines together and there shouldn't be a topic about race. It should be about fashion and I can't wait till the day when every color is united as one.

57 comments:

♥ Marta ♥ said...

I agree... the race issue emphasizes a problem that shouldn't even exist...personally, I don't think that fashion is racist.

Rhamier "2 Bad" Auguste said...

That was deep and I agree 100%. We need more people like you in this world.

Fantabulistique said...

i totally agree with you, its so true.

thanks for the comment on my blog. I linked you
XxX

Martha said...

Wow, i'd never seen it that way, i totally agree making all black issues and black history months is just segregation and seems more racist but in a less obvious way. I suppose, though, racism is one of those things that will never go away like poverty, no matter how hard we fight.

Penny said...

I completely agree with you! Not only are they segregating everybody, but how far will it go?
There are even less Asian models than black models, so why haven't they had their own issue?
It shouldn't have come to this.

Anthea said...

It's a problem. Black models are finding it increasingly difficult to get runway work. I think this not only applies to models of colors but of all shapes and sizes as well. Something must change.

The Clothes Horse said...

Yes, black models have difficulty getting work but what about Asian models? They are even more invisible and come from so many countries and backgrounds. Further not all of our differences are found in skin tone, diversity also comes from a person's country of origin, history, family, etc. Models from other countries, even of the same skintone can offer a variety through their unique backgrounds...

Andrea said...

of course we can link up! <3

Arielle said...

This is a very interesting post and I think that as good as it is to raise awareness about the issue it's sad that we still have to raise awareness. I also liked clothes horses point

Danz said...

I think the problem is that the market may not respond to ethnic models as well as they do to white models. If they did, I think the fashion industry would be scrambling to find a more models of different races.

Sugar Pop said...

I agree with the Clothes Horse about Asian models...I think they're seen even less in magazines and fashion! Not just because I'm Asian, of course.

But, great post, very profound, and I do agree.

KiKi said...

I totally agree with you, and it only shows more whne they do an All Black Issue why not have models of every backround and race but I think sometimes that is like saying in the fashion industry the models are too thin everyone knows it and nothing is being done about it

atelier said...

totally agree. I studied journalism and in an advertising unit they explained us white people sell more than black, and that's why they have more white people -at least in Spain- in the advertisments. I am so hungry about it!

Shen-Shen said...

As an Asian girl, I have to agree with The Clothes Horse a bit on this.

I also agree with you, though. Just stop talking about race, it's not fixing any problems by highlighting our differences.

Oh Lady E said...

I was also a little irked by the fact that the fashion world needs an "All Black Issue" to validate itself. Really, there shouldn't BE separate issues highlighting all of these gorgeous models. They should all be photographed regularly throughout the year, not just for one "special issue".

Also - I would love to exchange links with you! :)

Imelda Matt said...

I agree, model no models isn't everyones history part of history, full stop.

Hanna said...

I kind of agree with you - separating black models from the white and putting them in one special issue is proof to the fact that racism is still present in fashion because we still try to sort that tpic. However, it's still good to see a celebration of the black models'beauty in that issue, no matter what links to the issue of racism it may carry. You're totally right about uniting every race, though: hopefully, soon will come a time when this topic isn't even raised.

Brooke said...

Hm, I agree with you, and while race ought to be a non-issue by now, the fact that it isn't necessitates special acknowledgment like this issue. After all, bringing it up and realizing the problem is better than ignoring the problem altogether.

On another note, thanks for visiting my blog! Sure, I'll exchange links. :)

http://moohoop.livejournal.com

Cupcakes and Cashmere said...

very insightful post. when i worked at teen vogue, though i found it inspiring when they featured models of color, it always came as a 'different' kind of shoot whereas it should have just felt normal to feature girls of different ethnicities.

fashion herald said...

Well said Danz, it's all about the $$$! if the market wants it, the industry will follow.

Doll said...

"Doesn't it seem even more racist to separate black history from everything else and only celebrate it during one month?"

i know. it is so true. but i think the black issue is a positive step so hopefully things would get better?

Kara Craig said...

Hey I'd love to exchange links! Ive posted yours on the side of my page :)
xx

catharticy said...

im completely agreeing with your view
and in the fashion industry, the ethnicity whos got it the hardest is probably asians though
because blacks have so much attention they actually do get on more covers then a whole lot of other races

staranise said...

Great post. I completely agree. Bringing attention to the fact that there is a lack of ethnicity represented in the fashion industry seems to just separate those ethnicities even more. Everyone should be equal, not black or white or asian or green or pink. Differences should be accepted without being set apart from the norm.

PS. We've just added your site to our links list. Keep up the great posts!

Grayburn said...

I totally agree! At the Amsterdam Fashion Week, I only saw a handful of so called 'ethnic' models. It is 2008!

I would love to link up with you! I love what you do here :)

x Grayburn

SHOEGAL said...

Hi
Thanks for visiting my blog, I'll definitely do a link with you. I'm putting yours up now.
Fi

Sunniva said...

this is a very good post! I agree with you that it's creating an opposite effect than what it was intended to do by separating the black models, black history etc.It should be seen as the most normal thing that black models are featured in a fashion magazines.

And I'd love to exchange links with you sweetie! I'll link you up straight away ;)

xxx

Dapper Kid said...

Love the post. It's true, by drawing attention to it specifically actually isolates and seperates the issue further. I think people just think it's the 'right' thing to do, so they are able to sell more copies.

R.M. said...

It's always bothered me that there was Black History Month because, like you said, it just highlighted the fact that we still have to separate our country's heroes and leaders. Why not celebrate throughout the whole year?

And *ahem* they should come out with an all Asian issue... LOL, totally joking.

And yes we should definitely link up.

fashionista said...

GREAT post!!

and i totally agree with you!!

Make Do and Mend said...

A good poin tmade well. It is utterly disgraceful. the designers are at fault here too.

Thanks for link offer - would be a delight! I've added you already x

issa said...

i agree with you completely! i think they had fabulous intentions and it is definitely making a point.. that in reality.. sadly it seems there will always be racism.

Carolina Lange said...

I agree with you!
Amazing post!!!

Marina Hermanovna said...

can I say something maybe disturbing but....?

Do you realize that black top models have white features (small nose-almond shaped eyes...)

Seriously, besides Alek Wek who really looks 100% black and hasn't had any surgery, don't you think it's even more irritating that to be a black top model you have to go the same path as Naomi aka. get as much plastic surgery as you can to erase any ethicity from your face?

Please, take a look at the first pictures Naomi took (or at Tyra's "old" nose).

I think making black people look white to work in fashion is even more racist than hiring just a few of them.

As for the "models of any size and shape" puh-lease !!! Models are not supposed to look average - they are supposed to look dreamy.
This is why they will never come in any given size - period.

love,

marina hermanovna

allison said...

From the Guardian (the author -- and I! -- agrees completely with you),

"By simultaneously marking blackness as 'special' and yet ensuring conformity to dominant (white and European) ideas of sophistication and beauty, the 'black issue' tells us a great deal about race and ethnicity in the media today. To be non-white is to be constantly relegated to a 'special issue', while the regular edition remains determinedly white."

x
allison

Siljesfashion said...

Thoughful post! I agree that it creates a problem that by now in our society should be not be an issue. I also studied journalism in the US, and when they told us white people are in much more demand I just could not believe it.

MizzJ said...

Very insightful article. I have to agree with Marina that it does seem that even though there are "black models" they still tend to align with the narrow definition of beauty which tends to be somewhat similar to Caucasian features. I think Italian Vogue is heading in the right direction, but they shouldn't be overly applauded b/c yes this shouldn't be a special issue, it should be the norm.

fashion herald said...

bravo, marina, so true. but this idea of a homogenous beauty is with all the girls - they all have to get their noses done, etc.

michelle said...

I completely agree. I feel like when people single races out, even with good intentions, it really is just racism in it's own way.

Andrea said...

you're on it!

tuntra said...

I agree with what you're saying. And besides this whole "black issue" being used as a type of publicity stunt I also think it ties in to how people like to think that THEY'RE the norm.* (With how black history has to be highlighted in a month and with this all black issue)

What I mean by that is how people 1)can't look at things from different POV's while maintaining their own and 2)how people are "surprised" when someone isn't "like" them.

A prime example of this would be whenever I decide to wear my hair naturally. I cannot tell you how many times I've had people in my school come and stick their hands in my hair. Everyone knows what an afro looks like but for some reason when I wear my hair out it turns into this event.
I wanted to see what would happen if I did this (randomly touched her hair) to one of my white friends and when I did it I got some weird looks. Hmmmm..

The world is racist sadly so of course the fashion industry is also racist. I just don't plan on letting that hold me back any time soon.

*An example of this I guess would be how to me (since I live in North America, Canada to be exact) people on the other side of the planet are driving "backwards". But when they look at me and how I drive I'm the one driving on the wrong side of the road.

workthatwardrobe said...

You have inspired my post today!

LuLu124 said...

i totally agree with you!!! i'm sure they had good intentions and that it was something to give more awareness to the black models out there, but it's just weird to have a complete issue that is "all-black". it's sort of like saying once this one issue is over, the magazine will resume without any black models. the fashion industry has always been known to be mean and even cruel, but i really hope that one day it will change to accept all races for what they are. xoxo, lulu

roxanne said...

can i just say how much i love your posts? you consistently give me something new to think about with every post.

on this topic, i couldn't agree with you more. i bought the vogue italia black issue while i was abroad in france, excited because i'd read that it was sold out at home in new york, buying into the hype over what a landmark this magazine was. which it is, to a certain extent, but the more i thought about it, i realized there's something very "separate but equal" about the whole idea that just doesn't sit well with me. i guess you can chalk it up to good intentions and poor execution.

the Launderette said...

I agree. I thought all the craziness about the all black issue was weird. Next issue isn't it going to go back to the same ratio of white models as compared to models of color again? If that happens they've just drawn more attention to that fact, which will ultimately make them look bad. I think a better idea would be just to start incorporating models of different races without saying anything about it. Or, if they really wanted to say something about it, have an editorial explaining the decision.

Anonymous said...

It irks me how people say :Black History" is a form of segregation. IF HISTORY ( at least american) was taught truthfully, there wouldnt need to be black history. If blacks were left out we wouldnt have to force our way in. Some of you really need to educate yourselves on the black struggle in America. It is more than just black and white. r.m it is sad you are bothered, but its probably because you take what you are taught at face value ...do you still believe christopher columbus discovered america????

sad

gina said...

i was watching an interview with morgan freedmon several months ago and when he was asked if he thought racism would ever end, he said something to the effect that it would cease when people stopped seeing people as seperate races. it'll happen when we stop looking at people and think, "she's black" or "he's white".
i agree with that. i think that once people stop making such a big deal out of 'racism' and realize it doesn't matter, we are all humans. people go overboard these days with every little thing. analyzing every comment.
but in a way, i think there's process to getting there, and that we need analyze & fix these issues (such as racism in fashion) before we can move on to viewing everyone as one race.
woof. that was kinda heavy.
anyways. that's just what i think.
and good post. : ]
<33

Vanessa said...

we definitely need more diversity. great post!

Crispy Banana said...

Is it me, or are those models AWFULLY light skin?? Either they are not one hundred percent black, or they are painted and lit up with makeup and lights SO much that they HARDLY look black.

What happened to Alex Wek!??!

I'd say this hardly even qualifies as a "black issue" but maybe I am mistaken.

Robert Anthony said...

honestly this is so true I totally agree with you it almost seems as if black people arn't takin seriously in the industry...when you and i both know that there are alot of beautiful black models as well as indian and asain i think they should be posted more in magazines and bilboards and runways...and not the most african looking ones either...were all beautiful people no matter what colour we are!....love this post and your blog...

lovelierlala said...

great blog, love to see articles like this. and you make a really good point here. I don't mind adding you to my blogroll!

Little Miss Quirky (a.k.a. Gabby) said...

I was just thinking the same thing a few days ago. Why must there be a token "black issue?" Why can't there be women of all races side by side? What? will Vogue suddenly go back to mostly white models after this issue? Black models should be a permanent fixture in fashion, not just a once a year novelty.

SarahLovesFashion said...

this subject really annoys me. Its like when i was at primary school most of the kids in my class were white appart from one boy but i never ever saw him as different from us in anyway. I only did when we learnt about racism and all that and then ever since then I'm always thinking 'oh i better not say anything to offend them!' not that i would anyway! and then i have to worry about it and its so so stupid and i wish people would just not care about how ages ago a whole generation ago they werent accepted and that because now everyone is suppose to be so they should stop bringing it up so that the world can just get on with the fact that everyone is different. And stop teaching kids about it!

groovacious said...

It should be just about fashion but unfortunately, it's not, not yet at least. I was very proud that they had an all black issue, me being a black. But I agree if they represented ALL races in fashion magazines, then an all black issue wouldn't have to be made in the first place. It's like having BET, black scholarships, etc etc.

Jovon Higgins said...

I would have to agree! I expressed similar frustrations in my blog!

Mooksies said...

Hmm, I think the older generation might disagree. You cannot just ignore differences in race in order to avoid racism. As a minority, I do not want "pass" for being pretty based on a caucasian template. I am an exotic person with ethnic features and I want to be recognized for my complexion and features. I think the black model issue is great especially for a European issue.

The All Knowing said...

I was just thinking the same thing earlier. It shouldn't matter what color a woman comes in. Model or Not. I was looking at pictures of Noemie Lenoir and couldn't help but notice the ridiculous amount of posing she does with wild animals or animal print on. because she's 'exotic'. Having been raised in a black family, as a person of mixed ethnic background, I find nothing especially exotic about her. She just got the 'good eyes' and light skin.

And it's not like there are plenty caucasians who are french models who look exotic, Julie Ordon for one. But, because she's black, or ethnically inclined as my mother and I joke, she's paired with wild animals.

And you look at some of the models that get looked over who are ethnic but are too typical? So you can be the standard blue-eyed blond and be perfect, but other wise Jordon is the closest we'll ever come to a normal looking black woman?

Why do we need a all black issue? Are they going to do an all latin issue, and all asian issue too? Why celebrate just black people?

But you know what they say about squeeky wheels, Mooksies comment is a fine example of that.