If you haven't heard about Buro 247's recent editorial debacle, let me get you up to speed. Two days ago, the online art and fashion magazine posted an article on Dasha Zhukova, the Russian editor-in-chief of GARAGE magazine. Accompanying the article was an offensive photo of Zhukova sitting pretty atop a black female mannequin chair.
Image from Huffington Post
Before I get into my thoughts surrounding this image, I must preface them by saying that up until this week, I was a huge fan of Miroslava Duma, Buro 247's founder and editor-in-chief. Duma was one of a handful of women on my shortlist of style icons and one of the few "celebrity fashion editors" I follow on social media. Speaking of social media, my Instagram feed led me to the photo in question. Negative comments were piling up on one of Duma's posts, which resulted in me digging around the Internet to see what all the fuss was about. That's when I stumbled upon this article on Fashion Bomb Daily.
My initial thoughts? Disgust. Disappointment. Disheartenment. How could this happen? Who decided this was acceptable? We won't even begin to discuss the fact that it posted on Martin Luther King Day, as celebrated in the states.
Many argue that the chair has no racial undertones and is simply a rendition of the controversial art Allen Jones created in the late 1960s. Sure, art is a form of expression that is open to many interpretations. I'm a fashion blogger married to a DJ slash artist. I get it. However, the context is what makes the image problematic.
I'm not sure I'd ever be comfortable with seeing anyone use the replica of a human being as a seat. That being said, a pass would have been given if this photo was included in an article discussing BDSM and the subject was donning bondage gear. Instead, it is about a seemingly oblivious, white socialite.
I can't speak to the race relations in Russia, but here in the U.S., there is still much work to be done in the name of racial equality. We must not forget that the Civil Rights era was not all that long ago - many of us have immediate family members that were a part of that movement. Therefore, depicting a black woman as submissive or inferior to her white counterpart (whether it's unintentional or not) reopens wounds that have yet to fully heal. Should we expect the staff at Buro 247 to take into consideration the reaction of those outside of their target audience? Absolutely. Especially in this day and age when images can travel across the globe within minutes via social media. It also begs to question the lack of diversity at Buro 247 and other fashion publications that continue to produce racially offensive photos, followed by a weak apology.
Buro 24/7 issued this statement on Facebook:
Buro 24/7 is against racism and everything that may humiliate people. The chair presented on a photo should be seen like nothing but a piece of contemporary art. We sincerely apologize if the posted photos insulted our readers.
Many corporations are now enforcing diversity and inclusion initiatives. When will the fashion industry follow suit? That may require the formation of a internationally-recognized and well-respected governing body.
Needless to say, Buro 247, Duma and Zhukova learned quite a few lessons this week. My hope is that others have taken note. Although something tells me we will be revisiting this discussion again in a few months. Different publication, same B.S.
What are your thoughts on the photo? What do you think should be done to address the racial ignorance within the fashion community?
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