The internet has given voice to the voiceless. Instantly those previously excluded from discourses surrounding their race and/or gender are able to connect with those they feel wronged by thus creating an environment where the offenders are held accountable for their misdeeds or in Marc Jacobs’ case not only refuse to acknowledge their failures but further highlight the depth of their ignorance with glorious, unrepentant flare.
During Fashion Week recently, models in Marc Jacobs’ spring/summer 2017 collection wore multi-coloured dreadlocks. The look was inspired by one of my favourite directors and heroes Lana Wachowski (Cloud Atlas, V for Vendetta, The Matrix). Followers on Marc Jacob’s Instagram account pointed out that if he was going to have the models wearing dreadlocks having more women of colour in the show “would’ve been a great way to be more inclusive…” This is a fair analysis because according to writer Vic D dreadlocks originated in India around “2500 BCE with the Dreadlocked Vedic deity Shiva and his followers.” Alas instead of considering what was presented to him, Jacobs became defensive and showed his ass:
“And all who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race of skin color wearing their hair in a particular style or manner - funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair. I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race- I see people. I’m sorry to read that so many people are so narrow minded…Love is the answer. Appreciation of all and inspiration from anywhere is a beautiful thing. Think about it.”
First of all, Mr Jacobs, to reduce cultural MISappropriation to “whatever nonsense” because it doesn’t affect you nullifies your claims that you “respect” people. Here are women telling you that you could have done better, even going as far as to tell you what steps you could take to improve, and you’re going to tell they’re “narrow minded”? Tone deaf doesn’t even begin to fully articulate your lack of education in this area. For me, the most galling aspect of your clapback was the brilliant nugget of trash “funny how you don’t criticise women of colour for straightening their hair.” Listen here and open both your ears so this is planted deep in your consciousness; women of colour straighten their hair because white supremacy perpetuated by magazines, television and film then further made manifest in schools and work places in both the Western world and at home across the Diaspora taught them that the natural state of their hair was undesirable, unpalatable and unprofessional. Is that clear? It is convenient for you not to “see colour or race” because it doesn’t affect you. While this hairstyle is simply in vogue for you, young black women like Zulaikha Patel are being oppressed because of their hair, young black women like Simone Powderly lose job offers because of their refusal to change their hair, The US Army had to roll back restrictions on black hairstyles after pressure mounted due to controversy. Never again use this misnomer to prop of your rankling inability to accept criticism.
LOL. I’ve just read his apology on his instagram , but I’ve come this far…
Jacobs shared articles on Twitter that asked us not to “rage over dreadlocks when African Americans are dying in the streets” as if we are incapable of thinking critically about more than one issue that affects us at a time. Another article he shared claimed the “outrage was ridiculous.” It is easy to ignore and malign people’s opinions when what their opining will never be of any concern to you. The internet has given the disenfranchised the power to hold the power to a higher standard and it is an important tool because this is more than mere outrage, it is a call to those who could previously go unchallenged reminding them that in this digital age cultural misappropriation of the hairstyles of women of colour disguised as fashion will never again slip past us and be upheld as iconic while we are not truly free to wear our hair as it grows out of our heads.
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