Monday, September 7, 2009

The Fashion Industry's Mission to Destroy the Black Woman With Our Help

Hattip to Womanist Musings for the above photos

When I first viewed these pictures I will admit that my head almost exploded and if not for all the cursing that allowed some of the heat to escape it would have happened. If Black women don't understand by now then these pictures should make it perfectly clear that the "white" fashion industry has NO RESPECT for the Black woman because they willingly obliterate our image, with our assistance, by always choosing to portray the Black woman as an animal or fetishistic other! Pictures like these and others is why I say that they have our assistance in portraying us in this manner because we are choosing to be in the photos that perpetuate the BS.

Black women are we so desperate that no matter how our image is depicted as long as it's depicted, it's okay?

I hate to say it but I think that we have been maligned for so long in society that far too many of us have begun to think that something is better than nothing as evidenced by the abundance of repugnant images of black women in all forms of media. Now, I realize that women on a whole in society are sexualized but that is not what this post is about and also no other woman on the face of this earth is as demeaned by society as the Black woman.

Naomi Campbell has spoken out about
the discrimination that exists for black women in the fashion industry but she chooses to pose for this picture portraying the Black woman as the animalistic other.

Then there is this photo of Lil' Kim that of course I found disturbing due to the sexual nature but also for the fact that the Louis Vuitton logo displayed over her body to me depicts the same sickening idea of Black people being owned like "chattle"--a slave to the label if you will. WTH?!

I'm not done...I have seen several sites say that these pictures of Rhianna are beautiful (really) All I see is the same ol' shyt when Black women are portrayed on film of any kind. We are the mammy, the sapphire, the jezebel, the animal, the sexual exploit or the abused. The fact that Black women would choose to pose for these type of photos is beyond me. For all of those thinking that I am taking these objectifying pictures of Black women too seriously, I would like to say that you are lost and not taking these heinous depictions of us seriously enough!

Do you see any familiar patterns in these "beautiful pictures of Rhianna?

Our reactions to anything in this country as a people is not the same as our "white" counterparts because after our ancestors were brought here against their will in chains--treated as less than human-- why should they be! To react the same as the "white" woman who has always been placed on the proverbial pedestal whilst we continue to be subjected to all types of indignities...
would be choosing blindness instead of seeing what is really happening.

"Artistic" is a word that is thrown around all the time when "they" and even some of "us" try to explain these depictions of our image in this manner. HEAR ME WELL...Artistic applied to the image of the Black woman in these type of photos is NOTHING GOOD! Not in our society.

Our white supremacist society WILL NOT willingly portray Black people as equals worthy of the same respect that they bestow upon themselves! Please wake up and realize that until we take control of our image we will forever continue to be maligned by a society that would choose to demean us in any way that it can.

Black people we grew up knowing that there is always a difference made when our 'white' or 'near-white' counterpart does why would we behave as if the fashion industry would be any different because that industry has already confirmed that they are not. Black women will never be seen in the same light as white women or other non-black women unless we stop allowing the foolishness of our image being hi-jacked and displayed in a negative manner with our willing participation.

These excerpts are from a 2007 NY Times article.

“Years ago, runways were almost dominated by black girls,” said J. Alexander, a judge on “America’s Next Top Model,” referring to the gorgeous mosaic runway shows staged by Hubert de Givenchy or Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s. “Now some people are not interested in the vision of the black girl unless they’re doing a jungle theme and they can put her in a grass skirt and diamonds and hand her a spear.”

Agents blame designers for the current state of affairs. Designers insist agents send them nothing but skinny blondes. Magazine editors bemoan the lack of black women with the ineffable attributes necessary to put across the looks of a given season.

“You want to sell the model on the basis of her beauty, not her race,” said Kyle Hagler, an agent at IMG. Yet when he sends models out on casting calls based on what he terms a “beauty perspective,” omitting any mention to potential clients of race, “You always get a call back saying, ‘You didn’t tell me she was black.’”

Oh, In case you were wondering, 2008 and 2009 were no different in the fashion industry. If we want the years that follow to be different we have to be different. Because the status quo is a sad and pathetic state of existence.

As a Black woman in today's society I would rather be considered enigmatic and allow them nothing than to be portrayed as a tragic caricature of my divine self.


  1. All I can say is if we don't own it we can't run it. If we hope someone will have a epiphany and change then get ready for another century of disappointment.

    The whole thing is setup where we hope to get put on. We hope their magazines will show us being more than creatures.

    I guess I'm just saying I'm not surprised. Our folk have been preaching for access and now we have it.We want to be accepted so much we pose as the dog on our knees!

  2. "I guess I'm just saying I'm not surprised. Our folk have been preaching for access and now we have it.We want to be accepted so much we pose as the dog on our knees!"

    Freeman, absolutely AMAZES me how Black people keep coming back for more after getting kicked in the teeth over and over again.

    Why in the hell don't Black folks get it. We need to be creating our own thing that is on our own terms instead of trying so damn hard to integrate into the 'lily white' fashion world!

    *Sigh and a huge WTH*

  3. When I first engaged the fashion industry, I didn't know what to think about the depiction of black models! And because there were so few, I sucked it up and glorified the images with all the other dedicated followers; but the fetishistic portrayal of slavery was just sick. Black women 'and men' are often depicted with collars around their necks and little to no clothing on, or naked sex objects for their white counterparts. It's done often and I find it demoralizing and degrading to African American history in particular, but moreover and more importantly; desensitizing. It takes slavery and historical racial oppression out of the very serious context that it should be addressed and acknowledged and into the attitude of someone extremely uneducated and or aristocratically aloof to history. I blame this on our capitalistic society that has longed profited off of institutionalized racism and discrimination against minority groups. But I find it even more disgraceful that minorities (especially blacks) have bought into the stereotypes and allowed themselves to be typecast for their own personal ‘capital gain’.

    Black women are also often depicted as the Jezebel archetype that I found myself mistakenly admiring, and this was due to the lack of minority representation in fashion books such as Vogue and Harpers that I could identify. And with little else to choose from I tried to identify with those degrading images but could not, and came to the realization that “today” after the end of slavery, the end of segregation, seemingly successful integration, and a black American president, we are still in black face. The most offensive thing to see is black models placed in jungle like settings or in spreads wearing only ethnic garb, the later which is a typecast for “dark black girls”. Rather than pay respect to black cultures, these spreads reinforce stereotypes about Africa (and peoples of African descent) as being some sort of primitive continent of wild animals and people. It’s sick. From my research, I understand that the fashion industry is very racist. Things like “she looks too black” or “we have enough black girls this season” or even “her features aren’t white enough” are things these models commonly encounter. Casting directors completely acknowledge that these are the sentiments of many designers and members of the industry. Along with this they (female black models) are under pressure to maintain a strict weight and overall physical appearance, and are aware that they can’t be successful in locations like Milan, where there are strict policies against using women of color. These girls are young and naïve and usually take whatever work they can get, and don’t challenge industry standards out of fear of being ‘black listed’. All I can say is that it is sad, and I attribute the entire problem to the manipulative capitalist society that we live in. This goes well beyond the fashion industry; this is the entire beauty and entertainment world. It is strategic and systematic and the people in control and benefiting simply do not care, which includes notable entertainers. Again, I respect and appreciate what you have done here, and I was very happy to encounter a like mind.