Here Are 9 Racist Fashion Trends That Need to Die Immediately

A sea change in the fashion and beauty industry is long,

long overdue


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widespread scrutiny

on April 1 for an article released earlier this year titled ”

21 Beauty Trends That Need to Die in 2015

.” The side-by-side images were supposed to highlight trends that should be “in” or “out” for the new year. But, as



, “Only one mixed-race woman, Nicole Richie, was in the ‘Hello, Gorgeous!’ column, while three black women and one Latina were in the ‘R.I.P.’ column.”


apologized for the blunder, but this was no isolated incident. The fashion industry has had a

troubling history

in dealing with race. Here are some unfortunate trends that simply must go.

1. Using blackface instead of hiring black models.

Hiring black models for photo shoots and runway shows can’t possibly be so difficult that industry bosses must resort to using blackface, which has a

deeply problematic history

. As the



, “Blackface minstrelsy first became nationally popular in the late 1820s when white male performers … mocked black behavior, playing racial stereotypes for laughs.”

Nevertheless, magazines such as


and fashion designers like

Claudio Cutugno

have resorted to the practice, rightfully drawing the ire of critics who argued that the publications either ignored or revealed their cluelessness about why blackface is offensive.

2. Lightening the skin of women of color.

When women of color appear in beauty


, photo editors often



skin tone

. The practice implies that whiter skin is more beautiful, a notion that’s reinforced by the

lack of diversity

in fashion. For example, Gabourey Sidibe’s


cover was the

subject of scrutiny

in 2010, because she

appeared much lighter

than she actually is.

In fairness, any combination of factors (lighting, makeup and surroundings, to name a few) can change the way a person’s skin appears in a photo. But, importantly, the pushback encourages publications to examine best practices when showcasing the beauty of women of color — like using their actual shades of skin.

3. Photo shoots that play on racist stereotypes.

Often in fashion, what’s old inevitably becomes new again. Unfortunately, the same could be said for how imagery plays on old racial stereotypes.

For example, critics of LeBron James’ 2008


cover decried that he was positioned as “beastly and intense” next to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, as



, with some seeing a “generalized depiction of a dangerous black male and an angelic white woman.” In effect, the cover may have reinforced


about black manhood and criminality.


possible inspiration

for the cover itself was a

U.S. Army advertisement

from World War I, which depicted Germany as a “mad brute,” a character channeled through James’ pose.

4. Giving white people credit for fashion trends they didn’t create.

Black and brown Americans have been wearing braided hair for years, but three white women —

Kendall Jenner

, Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne — suddenly made braids a “bold” fashion trend. One particularly

offbeat piece

in the

Los Angeles Times

last September detailed braids as an emerging fall trend, but as



, managed to not mention a single black woman.

5. People of color being followed while they shop in retail stores.

Whether it’s at a

department store

or the

local convenience market

, people of color are often followed around by shop workers or asked invasive questions while they shop.




in September, shopping while black is “yet another instance of guilty until proven innocent. Store clerks may pretend to be at your service, constantly asking whether you’re finding everything OK while you browse the store. However, while good customer service is always appreciated, often these questions function as a way for store personnel to

keep an eye on black men

as they shop, under the assumption that they’ll shoplift.”

6. Appropriating ethnic and ethnoreligious attire to make fashion statements.

The disrespectful use of


or Native American


are both examples of cultural appropriation. Victoria’s Secret

notably apologized

in 2012 when runway model Karlie Kloss strutted down the runway at the company’s annual fashion show in a headdress and turquoise jewelry — designs ripped directly from

Native American cultural artifacts


As the website

Native Appropriations


, the runway show was part of a bigger issue: “Besides the daily harm of these ongoing microaggressions for Native folks, the sexualization of Native women continues to be an ignored and continuing epidemic.”

7. #WhiteGirlsRock and #WhiteOutDay

On the heels of the controversial


article, the hashtag


re-emerged for an April 5

TV special

, founded by a nonprofit of the same name. Many people used the hashtag to share various messages and images to celebrate the positive contributions, creativity and beauty of black women and girls — especially because such praise isn’t often visible in mainstream institutions, including the fashion industry.

But then came challenges that the hashtag was racist and exclusionary, along with the counter that #WhiteGirlsRock. Beverly Bond, the founder of

Black Girls Rock!

, took on the issue

in an op-ed

for the


in 2013, when the issue initially emerged: “It’s insulting and quite nervy for a social media mob to … attempt to belittle a movement that uplifts and celebrates our lives and legacies…”

Unfortunately, the act of

recentering whiteness

tends to follow during similar social media campaigns, such as



8. Products that deem white skin “normal.”

From “flesh-colored” bandages to “nude” heels, many consumer products and fashion staples

center white skin

as “normal.” This practice essentially erases various other shades of skin, including those of the darker variety, and implies that they’re aberrant or flawed.

Brands such as Dove,




, have consistently

come under fire

for labeling products this way, with many consumers of color


that the idea of white skin as the standard sustains the racist idea that darker skin isn’t beautiful.

9. Runways with little to no racial diversity.



‘s Liz Plank recently noted

in a video



‘s video series

Flip the Script

, diverse models continue to be rare in the fashion industry, including at major events such as New York Fashion Week.

According to


, model diversity at NYFW has remained stagnant over the years, and models appearing in the 2014 show were 79% white.

Hopefully, these disastrous trends get a permanent axe sometime soon. Authentically reflecting people of color is much more fashion-forward.

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at

fashion outfits, fashion tips, makeup ideas, fashion trends

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