Category Archives: exoticisation

Race + Fashion: Life, Labels, And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Michael Kors bag.

By Guest Contributor Cheryl Lynn Eaton, cross-posted from Digital Femme

“Cheryl Lynn, you will have your first and last dollar.” My mother says it with blend of mirth, surprise, and exasperation–as if she cannot believe she produced a child who behaves in such a practical manner, a child who would dare complain that she had to spend twenty-four dollars on a purse due to the old one falling apart at the seams. My mother possesses a walk-in closet full of purses. Not one could be purchased for twenty-four dollars. The glint of a gold circle surrounding a bold M and K–the lack of one separating my leather satchel from her assortment–costs a great deal more.

Yet, my mother is a child of poverty; I am a child of the working-class struggle. She needs her talismans, her high-end upmarket logos, to make her feel as if she is of worth. I was taught to fear them, to believe that obtaining them would bring about financial ruin. I’ve jokingly told many friends that I’m glad I grew up working-class instead of rich, middle class, or poor because it has made me so paranoid about money that I’ll never purchase designer labels. Black working-class kids are raised to believe that one wrong move will have you back in the ghetto where your parents came from. Working-class kids are raised on fear.
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Quoted: Adios Barbie On Stereotypes And Body Image

Supporters of the “Black is Beautiful” campaign and several others similar to sought to redefine beauty in ways that both included and uplifted black women from what Princeton professor Imani Perry describes as the “generally degrading and unattractive, or hypersexual and less feminine” images of black women in society. The message was clear: as Bill Cosby famously put it, “It isn’t a matter of black is beautiful as much as it is white is not all that’s beautiful.” Could it be that black women ignore the dominant images of beauty and instead dance to their own tune, or have we simply flipped the coin and replaced one set of controlling images with another?

Being skinny was never a crime. Yet somewhere along the way, African American pop culture took over and a binary standard of beauty once more became dominant among black women. In a classic two-steps-forward-one-step-back scenario, the Washington Post announced what watching any rap music video will tell you: skinny is out, “thick is in,” and having some extra meat on your bones is a virtue (cue the parade of “fiercely real” women with curves, because “real” women obviously come with curves.)

One self-proclaimed “real” woman is the British TV and radio presenter Mica Paris, who, with her less-than-real hair, claims that black women are happier with their appearance. Paris wrote in the UK’s Daily Mail in 2012: “I don’t know any black women who aspire to be skeletal, and even if we did, nature decrees that we shouldn’t be. We’re made with breasts, bottoms and well-developed quads.” It doesn’t take a genius to know that aligning black women to the supposed naturalness of a fuller figure is not only incorrect but also horribly subjective.

- From “Binary Thinking About Body Image Hurts Us All,” by Vinjeru Mkandawire

Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls In Headdresses

By Guest Contributor Sasha Houston Brown

Gwen Stefani in No Doubt’s “Looking Hot” video. Via theinsider.com

There is something insidiously ironic about being American Indian during the fall of the 21st century. It all starts with Columbus Day to mark our “discovery,” then moves right into the “it’s totally not racist to dress up as a hypersexualized Indian” awkward Halloween party, and goes out with a bang on Thanksgiving when we celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims and that harmonious, mutually beneficial relationship forged between colonizers and Indigenous peoples everywhere! However romanticized or factually inaccurate, these holidays happen to be the three days when Native peoples actually enter the mass psyche of American culture.

I don’t know about you, but I usually spend this time of year parading around in my Navajo Hipster panties, feather headdress (on loan from Karlie Kloss and Gwen Stefani), Manifest Destiny T-Shirt and knee-high fringed moccasins made in Taiwan while watching a Redskins game, smoking a pack of American Spirits, and eating genetically modified Butter Ball turkey, because I’m just that traditional.
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Excerpt: On Halloween And ‘Native’ Costumes

The Wider Society Says: Totally cool. They are honoring Native Americans…they are just having fun…these people claim Native American ancestry…these are not racist costumes…so its okay…

I guess the Civil Rights Movement was only for certain groups and racism only counts against some minorities but not all.

Society as a whole does not condemn these outfits and they are even considered fashionable at the moment. While all hell breaks loose over other racist costumes, these tend to go without notice to the point that many consider it a legitimate or even fashionable option. Seriously, even progressive websites listing racist costumes conspicuously forget Native American costumes. I honestly did not attend a Halloween party yesterday because if I ran into a well-educated white and affluent peer of mine dressed as a Native American I do not know what I would do.
- From Speak Faithfullly

Racist Stereotypes At The Lupe Pintos Chili Cook-Off

By Guest Contributor Beth Frieden

[Editor's Note: Racialicious was contacted Monday morning and asked to remove the photos seen here due to copyright concerns. This piece has been updated in keeping with the request. - AG]

Lupe Pintos is a Mexican, Spanish, and American imports store in Edinburgh and Glasgow that I have enjoyed visiting from time to time since I moved to Scotland from the US, but I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach when I saw a flyer for their Chili Cookoff in my local social centre. Lupe Pintos are well-known and popular, having been open in Edinburgh for 21 years now, and started celebrating their fourth annual chili cook-Off this year on October 20th in Edinburgh, and will be in Glasgow on October 27th. So what’s the problem with this celebration of delicious food?

The poster advertised “Come dressed as Cowboys, Mexicanos, Wild West, Day of the Dead.” Come dressed as Mexicanos? Really? From a store that specializes in Mexican food? You would think the owners would have had ample opportunity to realize that “Mexican” isn’t a costume but rather a present-day real identity.

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“Your Women Are Oppressed, But Ours Are Awesome”: How Nicholas Kristof And Half The Sky Use Women Against Each Other

By Guest Contributor Sayantani DasGupta

I just saw the most problematic image on Facebook. It was a photo of four blonde female pilots in combat gear with the caption, Hey Taliban, look up in the sky! Your women can’t drive, but ours CAN!

Despite the issues I have with militarism, or this country’s campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m all for cheering for female pilots (yea, bada&& flying ladies!). What I can’t just can’t stand by and let slide is this “your women are oppressed, but ours are awesome” rhetoric, a rhetoric which only illuminates how–both actually and metaphorically–racism, xenophobia, and imperialism so often play out on women’s bodies around the world.

To me, this photo represents how blithely and blindly women from the Global North allow ourselves to be used as (actual and metaphorical) weapons of war against women from the Global South. In fact, that offensive caption isn’t significantly different from comments I’ve been hearing this week like, “These are countries where women have very little value.”

Sadly, the place where I’ve been hearing such phrases isn’t on some conservative TV program or website (where I think that all-woman pilot photo originated), but rather, on the PBS film Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women, a well-publicized neo-liberal “odyssey through Asia and Africa” hosted by everyone’s favorite white savior New York Times reporter, Nikolas Kristof.
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Zayn Malik And Racism In One Direction

By Guest Contributor Marwa Hamad

One Direction member Zayn Malik. Via IrishCentral.com

I’ll admit it: I am a 22 year old part-time music journalist and full-time social-justice activist who gets relentlessly mocked on a daily basis for my immense and unwavering love for a little boy band sensation known as One Direction. If the glossy poster plastered by my work station of five UK boys grinning goofily at me is any indication, my loyalty as an over-aged fan of these kids is a truth that I’ve come to embrace.

The biggest chunk of this appreciation can be attributed to the fact that, for the first time in a long time, I actually feel represented in popular culture as an Arab, Muslim, and “brown” woman. Zayn Malik, the only Muslim person of colour in the band, is someone I can look to and think, you and I might have a thing or two in common. From reading his bandmates’ tweets about taking him out to Eid dinner, to seeing the Arabic script inked across the 19-year-old’s collarbone, I’ve found somewhat of a happy place in Zayn’s presence within the white-dominated world of mainstream pop music. I am now able to watch TV, listen to the radio, and open magazines to find something I can relate to for a change.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, or at least be horrendously tainted by the obvious fact that the inclusion of a Muslim person of colour in a boy band doesn’t mean the exclusion of racist undertones in the way that the media, the public, and his management choose to pigeonhole him.
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Diversity Is More Than A Bra Size: What It’s Like To Be A Woman Of Color In The Lingerie Industry

By Guest Contributor Cora Harrington, a.k.a. Treacle Tart, cross-posted from The Lingerie Addict

Photo of the author by POC Photo. Hair & Makeup: The Shanghai Pearl. Lingerie: Kiss Me Deadly.

Today’s post was really hard to write. I’ve been thinking about the things I’m about to say now for months, but it’s only become clear in the last few weeks they urgently need to be said.

I never know which articles people see first when they visit The Lingerie Addict, and we get a lot of new visitors everyday. So I’m going to say a few things which are probably obvious to my longtime readers but may be less obvious to visitors who are new or who don’t come around as much.

  1. I’m black.
  2. I’m a US dress size 10, bra size 34C.
  3. I weigh 175 lbs.
  4. I’m American.

I’m saying all that to give you a bit of context about who I am and the perspective I’m writing from because, for some time now, I feel like the conversation on diversity within the lingerie industry has been dominated by those who behave like diversity only matters along one axis–and that’s size.
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