Yes, the dreads are upsetting, but it did not end there.
When I first saw the pictures of the S/S 2017 runway show, I scoffed and was prepared to part with some respect for the designer. In my opinion, Marc Jacobs is a great designer. Jacobs seems to always manage to be playful and startling but not at the expense of elegance, so I was disappointed to see this. The use of mainly white models in dread locs to me read like a cheap grab at publicity, which happens all the time in fashion.
And to be fair this might have led to some desensitivity on my part, and while I may not be all the way mad; it chips away at my respect for the designers who opt for publicity stunts. So the initial act (for me) did not merit too much emotional energy.
But, the foolery that followed surely did.
In response to Instagram commenters who questioned the racial sensitivity and overall ethics of white models in dreads Jacobs said a few things let’s discuss them.
“and all who cry “cultural appropriation” or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hain any particular style or manner”
To deny that appropriation exists and is harmful is to say that the exchange of cultures is always done in a respectful and mutually beneficial manner and effectively deny history. To decide that cultural appropriation is ‘nonsense’ signals to those of us who get it that you just can’t be bothered to be uncomfortable enough to execute your inspiration with all the necessary sensitivities in mind (for example, hire black models with dreads who have a harder time finding work because of their dreads).
“funny how you don’t critize women of color for straightening their hair”
As a black girl, this one hit me like all the Ls Meek Mill keeps taking. Growing up feeling like there was something viciously wrong with how my hair grows naturally is an inherited scar that just began to heal. The negative feelings I had about my hair was not an accident of low self-esteem. They trace far back to the initial process of assimilation, back when white supremacy did not use coded language to debate black people’s humanity and was passed on for generations with direct violence which then evolving into bias policies and beauty standards. So that even today there will be a teary-eyed black girl tolerating burning chemicals on her scalp so that she can be pretty and survive society.
In addition, there are women of color with naturally straight hair.
“I do not see color”
This is not something to brag about. This is you snitching on yourself. This is lacklustre. This is a lazy way of saying you do not hate people who do not look like you but you are also not invested in their well-being. This is a lazy defense for why you are not involved in the fight people of color are forced to participate in but are involved in the fun cultural areas that no one asked you to join, ( the hair, the art, the music, the fashion e.t.c) but not the standing up for people of color who are forced to water down their identity in order to survive.
Naturally, if something dumb is posted online it will get a reaction and if you are famous the reaction is huge. So Marc Jacobs did come back with an apology (I assume prompted by someone with some sort of financial stake, PR agent perhaps).
“I have read all your comments … and I thank you for expressing your feelings. I apologize for the lack sensitivity unintentionally expressed by my brevity. I wholeheartedly believe in freedm of speech and freedom to express oneself through art, clothes , words, hair, music… EVERYTHING. Of course I do “see” color but I DO NOT disciminate. THAT IS A FACT!”
Yup, he completely missed the point and with the help of thesaurus.com came back to tell us the same thing (maybe he thought if he said it in a nicer tone?…)
You see if Jacobs did see color he would know it is not the invisible hand of the in-vogue gods that made natural black hairstyles popular but the collective effort of black people to re-learn self-love. And because the process is so damn magical his uninvited ass is attracted to it.
I have discussed my thoughts on inspiration before it is worth repeating that true inspiration comes with respect. I am having a hard time believing a man as talented and as intelligent as Marc Jacobs does not see anything wrong with his actions unless of course, he does not want to see anything wrong. And as a lot of us have learned you cannot teach someone who does not want to understand.
Jacobs could have just direct messaged a friend(s) and the rest of us could have scoffed and lost respect for him in peace.
For clarity: no one is saying it is not okay for white people to have black hairstyles because black people said no. We are saying that the treatment of things like hairstyles so integral to our race that are persecuted while on us but at the same exact time placed on white bodies as fun interchangeable trends & aesthetics is unfair and wrong
Recommended: Kenyan Culture in Non-Kenyan Fashion Shows
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