Morning wake-up call.
So, I currently work “in fashion” and am exposed to the world more&more everyday through my job, and consuming information to stay sharp on the job. Some of this consuming happens on Refinery29.
I’ve been surprised by the Jezebel-esque/tumblr conscious posts on Refinery29 lately, even told friends about how impressed I was. But then this happened.
A couple days ago at work I had to confront a minor (albeit serious for me personally) situation in which my boss and co-workers wanted to title our weekly newsletters using “Indian Summer.” I consulted Tonia, and decided to rename it and if questioned, pull out the “UO HAS A LAWSUIT AGAINST THEM LET’S BE EXAMPLES IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY/ NOT COLONIALIST.” After some office exchanges, and the other Berkeley grad on my side, they were all receptive to the change!
You can read my response below the article, and I hope for some more engagement on the topic.
i must say i’ve always had the sense that refinery29 is the kind of crew that just goes with the flow, and has never been interested in really challenging the status quo. i’ve never been a regular reader, but often end up there for the same reasons you list: i’m interested in fashion, and read up on what’s happening right now.
i totally laud your great thoughtful comment, and feel the same way… but truly wonder how real change and critical discourse about racism will ever be approached in a fashion blog like refinery29. case in point? their take on “ethnic prints.”
this post from may 2012, “what fashion’s ethnic prints are really called” is a good starting point, but it’s just that: a starting point. two days after posting that article, they described a pair of shoes as “ethnic.” and simply asking people to “use the right words” when talking about ethnic prints is just looking at the surface of the issue, and not calling into question cultural appropriation, who these prints are made by, how they are produced, who is selling them, who is wearing them, and what that may be indicative of.
i don’t expect critical thinking from refinery29, and i don’t know if that means i am just cynical and jaded or it means that i am a realist when it comes to this. if you go to their website today, even places where it would be really easy and helpful to talk about racism, like their halloween post, they are more concerned about young women dressing “slutty” than doing race-drag. one of the first comments is also about how women of colour are shit out of luck if they followed their “costume tips.”
another one of the first things i see is a sale for an “african print dress” modelled by a white woman, designed by a white woman. clearly they have taken their own advice to heart, less than six months later…
critical comments are great, me joining in to bitch on tumblr can be cathartic, but whenever situations like these come about, i always recommend people go as high up as they can. email the author, the editor. be direct, polite, but straightforward: i.e. i, and many others, will stop reading you if you aren’t more conscious/don’t apologize/don’t at least address these concerns.
that said, i don’t expect much. like gawker. major blogs that are driven by hits and ad revenue rates that increase with the more hits they get… pays off in the end. major brands, by and large, don’t care either. and even individual bloggers.