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04-02-2014
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I also feel this way with the Indian culture too. The bindi has become popular amongst the tumblr crowd and I just think its awful that girls wear that as some cute accessory. It has so much meaning and history behind yet its now seen as something to accessorize and use to look cool and different.

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04-02-2014
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I find many of the accusations on cultural appropriation unbearable too, and I find the term itself to be made up of mostly nonsense. Sure, it sounds sensitive, but it also implies someone then has the rights or the liberty to grant permission to cultural elements that, for better or for worse, no one owns.

I see where the quick reaction comes from and how it differentiates from, for example, getting inspired by the attire of some Finnish group. It comes from ongoing tension, social wounds that are still open or denial of closure. And like I said in the cultural appropriation thread, comparing any group with any type of attire with a group that continues to face discrimination and has an endless history of tension with an oppressor (which is the one that happens to be reinterpreting and "exploiting" their culture for profit and with poor sense of understanding- and I'm not talking symbolism but simply getting one group right!) is not something that's going to shed much light into the topic, because it's lazy, you can't just pile anything that's 'traditional' into one category and wonder why is this more offensive than the other. What would help a lot is separating said groups and pairing them up by circumstance, and this means, what other group has gone through something similar? does this happen in Europe? has segregation ever taken place, did it leave scars? did they completely heal? does it still happen? (of course it does, these naughty tricks in America didn't exactly come from the Pacific). Focus on maybe Jewish people, whose European experience was a little more than traumatizing, pick anything that looks fun, exotic or just plain weird to your eye and make some cute tops or a new type of politically incorrect hat, do honor it with a few pretty embroideries but never abandon the "wild" element. Even the sole mention of this group may generate some 'oh no no, not them, how dare you', we all know what happened and it gets us all, and in the invisible scale of social... scarring, they're actually not doing that bad these days (which can't be said for Native Americans- I haven't seen them on top of anything lately). And of course there are a lot of groups with specific dressing designers are not going to touch because the tension is palpable, you may as well wear a robe that says 'Prada manufacturer', hell you may as well dress as yourself ...how obvious and risky, and by that I mean modern ways of dressing... the sartorial patterns of immigrants in kitchens, out in the fields and most service jobs, and yes, it is practically the same, granted they have removed elements to satisfy a thirst for what's kitsch and can bring us tears of joy for its exotic splendor but deep in a mind with no much depth, they are rocking grunge. Why is it not being replicated? because acknowledging they even exist would make you think harder when voting, and because even though there's a perfectly clear expression through clothing even in exploited groups, it's too awkward and has all the potential to take your fashion trip down to guilt trip when you can see it in that alley on the back of that fancy restaurant that makes you feel like you made it in life.

So it appears, in fashion: tension, past, present and ignorance are perfectly compatible, a toy so to speak; tension, past and knowledge are not; tension and past (say, Catholicism) works too... tension and present is super offensive.. "you're now being too serious". Racism is debatable. Segregation is okay as long as you don't see it (which is easy- being segregated!). Exploitation doesn't exist.

In conclusion fashion (designers) is okay playing with tension as long as its consumer's confidence in social achievements is not compromised. And that mentality belongs in that good ol' "I don't hire black models because the majority of my consumers are not black". Meaning there's a pretty ceremony around a consumer's wallet... only to call him stupid.

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04-02-2014
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^^^ Those are great points Mullet... but, if you're speaking of how we, as individuals discussing and coming to terms with races issues, then yes-- I'm learning and coming to an understanding of the different points of views. However, we know very well that that type of thoroughness, thoughtfulness, consideration and compassion is not going to infiltrate the fashion industry. I don't expect Dasha to be educated, as I think someone like her would just say that she's sitting on "art"-- or that she's just being an equal-opportunist, since the original pieces depicted white women, and she's chosen to be photographed with the "black" version-- that kind of attitude... It all comes across incredibly insensitive and ignorant to me-- which seems to be a common factor in this industry. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and not so fast to label her a racist, though.

TREVO: That type of attitude is to be expected from the Tumblr crowd-- but, maybe a few of them will learn something about East Indian culture in the process. That's how education can start: It's no different to me than to see crucifixes slathered all across high fashion runways. Both instances, cultural/ religious symbols are meant to look cool, or whatever positive term you'd like to use-- I don't think these girls are wearing the Bindi to mock Hindus. I feel these symbols of a culture/ religion/ people, are just empty signifiers and don't lose their importance and context because some trendy girls think it's "cute" to wear them. Just like I have no intentions of going into Victoria's Secret and demand that all the kimono-style lingerie be removed because it trivializes a garment that has so much meaning to me. It's tacky and cheap Victoria's Secret: it has no absolutely no meaning to me. It does not offend me.

A photojournalist friend came back from North Africa where he and his team had spent time with Bedouin tribes, and some Massai tribes as well. He gave me as a gift some portraits, as well as a headscarf-- in that famous indigo. He told me it was a gift from the individual in one of the portrait (who, BTW, has the most unbelievable bone structure and the most hypnotic eyes, and would be totally model-material should he live in the West). I wear the scarf in my own style-- sometimes in the traditional Western manner, sometimes wrapped around my head, in the traditional Bedouin style. I hope that I'm not being disrespectful in any way to the individual who gave me this gift when I wear his traditional piece with a designer suit. I don't think I am. I'm much more aware of him and his culture for having this very personal gift.

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19-10-2014
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I'm very curious, we hear black/African models (and people who work in fashion, in general) stories/experiences of racism and discrimination relatively more often. But why don't we hear so much of other people of color (or any other group of people who could fall under these circumstances too)?

Particularly, how are Asian people, whether models or other professionals, treated/faring in the fashion industry? How come I haven't heard (with the exception of two, I think) an account from the many Asian models that we have, especially the well-known, share their thoughts/experiences about racism? I don't want to assume, but I think they/some do and probably some don't experience such scenarios?

It would be great to hear someone who actually works in the fashion industry to shed some light on this (preferably with first hand experiences). I'm genuinely curious and compassionate about this subject.


On another note, there was a recent article published:

lovefmd.com



Or, how about these designers, editors, photographers, etc. of Asian descent, feel about this subject?

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Last edited by Prymasquous; 19-10-2014 at 07:42 AM.
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20-10-2014
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I'm only in the fringes of the fashion biz and I am not a "person of color", so I may not be the person you want to hear from. But, since you asked, I'll add my 2 cents. It's really just a guess ... based on just my own personal experiences and discussion with some of my friends who are of different ethnic backgrounds than me.

I believe that any non-white person may have experienced some or a lot of discrimination in this business but some people just don't speak of it, openly. The reason you may not hear from other people of color, other than African Americans, is possibly just a cultural thing.

The African American people have had an extremely difficult row to hoe as a result of being forced from their homelands and into slavery in the Americas. And they were treated as either animals, or more recently, as second class citizens at best. African American people have struggled for well over a century and have slowly found their voice to speak out about injustice. I would think that they probably don't want to ever go back to being silent about this. Over the decades, it has finally become the right thing to do for all African Americans ... to speak up.

Other people of color probably do not have this type of history, and therefore might not feel the urgency to speak up. Or if they are strongly tied to the culture in the country where they came from, perhaps it's considered bad form to complain.

Either way .... the discrimination is likely there .... it's just that each culture (and each person) may respond to it in a different manner.

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Last edited by BetteT; 20-10-2014 at 05:31 PM.
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26-10-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BetteT View Post
I'm only in the fringes of the fashion biz and I am not a "person of color", so I may not be the person you want to hear from. But, since you asked, I'll add my 2 cents. It's really just a guess ... based on just my own personal experiences and discussion with some of my friends who are of different ethnic backgrounds than me.

I believe that any non-white person may have experienced some or a lot of discrimination in this business but some people just don't speak of it, openly. The reason you may not hear from other people of color, other than African Americans, is possibly just a cultural thing.

The African American people have had an extremely difficult row to hoe as a result of being forced from their homelands and into slavery in the Americas. And they were treated as either animals, or more recently, as second class citizens at best. African American people have struggled for well over a century and have slowly found their voice to speak out about injustice. I would think that they probably don't want to ever go back to being silent about this. Over the decades, it has finally become the right thing to do for all African Americans ... to speak up.

Other people of color probably do not have this type of history, and therefore might not feel the urgency to speak up. Or if they are strongly tied to the culture in the country where they came from, perhaps it's considered bad form to complain.

Either way .... the discrimination is likely there .... it's just that each culture (and each person) may respond to it in a different manner.
Thanks for sharing, BetteT.

I'm not sure if you were referring to a cultural event such as slavery or whether you were referring to 'how to handle/unable to speak up' is due to cultural traits... But if we were to speak in U.S. context then IMO I doubt much POC, whether recent immigrants or first/second generation, would be oblivious to such racism and not speak up. I mean, this is a slightly different context but still applicable.

On the matter of speaking up I think it is more about the lack of attention, concern, resources, political actors (other than black) and how to combat--that make it seem like racism is just a 'black' thing or they are perceived as the only victims/target and not others. Also other POC don't have leverage and the political platform especially to address on a wider scale. Indeed, other POC weren't enslaved nor treated as harsh as the black in U.S.; and granted slavery is a cruel and inhumane act and the civil rights movement is still fresh in U.S. history. It is very reasonable why blacks are at the forefront on anti-racism and more vocal thanks to the great leaders/activists. No question there.

Historically, I'm pretty sure early immigrants such as the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Filipinos and others (even the Irish) have had experienced racism and discrimination even to the point where there were laws enacted to prevent their well-being and the like. Recently we could see the same cycle with the Mexicans/Hispanics and Muslims/Middle Easterns. We could also see the struggle of the Native Americans and their persistent requests. One could argue that the Native Ams. had it worst of all POC through mass murder and stolen land. .....so in the context of U.S. it is not necessarily a 'cultural' thing (rather it's U.S. history), but it's the context of these group of people's history and experiences that they were oppressed and faced racism. I think it is valid.

Now if we were to speak of Asian people, then that will garner a different perspective and context. Lets not forget about colonialism/imperialism. Sure, it may not be as 'fresh' for some country/culture/people, but it still lingers in their history and other aspect of their society--even to this day. Different context but still opposition of the white man.

On the other hand, yes, speaking up is not necessarily everyones' style. I understand. Or it could very well be just a cultural thing and having different traits on handling or bad to complain, like you said, I don't know; or having no experiences on racism. I won't doubt that any second.

Without the voice, support, tool or knowledge of handling racism--could lead to internalizing that it is okay and to silence is the only option. Also it is the twenty-first century and we all should know better, let alone being U.S.A. No person, esp. a POC, should condone racism in all of its heinous forms at the cost of their well-being --whether ethnically, politically, economically, socially, sexually or intellectually.





Were you strictly speaking for L.A? Or places such as NY and Europe too?

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Last edited by Prymasquous; 26-10-2014 at 07:50 AM.
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