SUNDAYS BEST: Models Go Topless x Protest Racism in the Fashion Industry

7:52 PM

Earlier this week, another act of solidarity was shown in the name of equality, in Rio DeJaneiro, Brazil. About 40 black and indigenous female [and some male] models banded together in a TOPLESS pursuit to be recognized in an industry they fight so hard to be a part of. Just when some thought racism in fashion would begin to shift gears, we're reminded that the original inhabitants of this earth has a shitty deal just about everywhere!

Models staged the topless protest, wearing nothing else but their bronze skin and flesh tone undies, on Wednesday in an effort to bring awareness against the lack of Afro-Brazilian women represented on the runways ...sound familiar?. The protest was synchronized with Rio fashion week as well as the signing of a deal between Fashion Week Organizer's and Rio's Ombudsman Office setting a 10% quota for Black and indigenous models to be placed in fashion shows.
"What strikes you, your racism or me?" was one of the direct messages adorned by a female model placed directly on her bosom. 

More than half of Brazil's 200 million people are of African descent, which is the worlds largest black population outside of Nigeria! (word?, I thought it was Brooklyn!) But to our surprise [sarcasm] Afro-Brazilians complain of constant and now widespread racial inequalities throughout the country and a growing fashion industry. 
In June 2009 the Sao Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW) imposed quotas that required at least 10 percent of the models casted, to be black or indigenous---oooohh, a whole 10%. Gee thanks!---In recent times, among the 350 models who strut their stuff during SPFW only a hand full of black models were featured among them and just one year later, when a conservative prosecutor deemed the quota "unconstitutional" in 2010, the 10% was removed.
Young Afro-Brazilian girls get ready to present outfits during a demonstration against discrimination of Afro-Brazilian Models in fashions shows in Sao Paulo Brazil.

It would be a much easier blow if the fashion industry just told us like it is: "You women are way too beautiful and too intriguing to be alongside the purity of our dry white models" That would seem a little better rather than just excluding us altogether. Reminding us of our power while excluding us just may relinquish the imaginary chains and release the mental bind that continuously shapes the lives of people of color. The bind that tells us everyday that we should be fully integrated into the white universe, when in fact we have enough power to create our own and another!

Racism in Latin America is not exclusive to Brazil and many are unaware that like fashion, darker skinned curly haired women are often over looked in broadcasting and other media outlets in ALL of Latin America. Sometimes I imagine myself as a fly on the wall inside the chambers of any fashion counsel. A soft debate among fine English tobacco and Irish scotch; featuring debutant's, self proclaimed fashion experts, craftsman's of the old country and daughters of Kings and Queens. It may sound like the following: [NOTE: you are welcome to read in any of the following accents: English, French, Italian--thinkDonatella Gershon]

"What will I tell my American investors? that I could not write a review about di looks because I was too focused on di girl. Di ebony girl. Di one with the big arse, and di full mout! aahhh dat beautiful girl....she can carry the spring and summer with such ease and power....No! we cannot have more dan one black girl at a time. My grandfather's legacy must live on. No Blacks!"
Bootylicious women of Salvador Bahia, Brazil

Yeah, it could very well sound like that, huh. After all, fashion is about the clothing and trends, right. So maybe we should continue to ban together and just.....DO US!

What are your thoughts on another cultural group banding together for equality and recognition? do you think things that are entitled to people of color are constantly being taken away? does fashion have a place for women of color?


Ms. LeBlanc

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Thanks for leaving your opinion, Toots! It means a lot :)

Ms. LeBlanc