The issue of diversity in fashion is a reoccurring subject, and the industry’s endemic problem bubbled to the surface this Monday with two eye opening incidents. Clothing giant H&M featured a young black boy modeling a sweatshirt with the phrase, “The Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” which set off a firestorm of rage and encouraged two musical artists to cut ties with the brand. Then E-commerce site Revolve posted images from #RevolveAroundtheWorld, a trip which takes powerful fashion influencers to picturesque Thailand. The images were beautiful, but black and brown faces were noticeably absent (though rap lyrics were definitely on deck).
Regarding the latter violation, I, along with a slew of other brown bloggers, wrote articles, sent DM’s to our white and Asian colleagues, and posted on Instagram. Teen Vogue wrote about it, as did Daily Mail and People Magazine. Sure, some of us have kept our cute coins to ourselves and pledged not to shop at those stores again, but it seems our fury was a pebble in the ocean. Nothing has happened. Revolve is still posting their pictures. Apparently no one cares.
Yesterday, I attended a women’s empowerment luncheon featuring Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, who has been dubbed the most trusted person on Television. In the early days of her career, Robin, a sports enthusiast, had aspirations to be an anchor on ESPN, an unprecedented post for a black woman. Sadly, she initially couldn’t get her foot in the door. One day, frustrated, she went to her loving parents and said, “They won’t hire me because I’m a black woman! The man is against me.” Her parents, one of whom was a Tuskegee Airman and well aware of prejudice, looked at her and said, “Baby, maybe it’s not because you’re black, but rather because you’re just not good enough yet.” She took it to heart, worked her butt off, and eventually got the job. Years later, she is an award winning anchor on one of the nation’s biggest morning TV shows. She saw the deck stacked against her, looked the problem square in the eye, and committed herself to excellence.
As black fashion bloggers WE KNOW that doors are shut in our face every day. There is no denying discrimination. But do you think any brand would deny us if we came armed with 4 million + followers?
The internet is a democratic place and there are millions of black people on Instagram: Look at @TheShadeRoom! There are innumerable black influencers and celebrities with millions of followers. But I haven’t seen the formula (yet) of a regular black or brown fashion blogger with great style and no celebrity affiliation amass millions of followers similar to Sincerely Jules (4.7 million followers), Aimee Song (4.7 million followers), Camila Coehlo (6.9 million followers), and Chiara Ferragni (11.5 million followers). It hasn’t been done yet (as far as I know, correct me if I’m wrong!). But if they can do it, so can we.*
Because I do so much with Fashion Bomb Daily and all my various events, I don’t put as much energy and effort into building my personal page as I should. Some days I bring the heat, but many days, I am absent.
I once clocked Chiara Ferragni, arguably the world’s biggest fashion blogger, and homegirl updated every 30 minutes. On @FashionBombDaily we sometimes update every 15 minutes, which is part of the reason why we’re at 1.3 million (and growing). But FBD also has paid staff and we curate our images tirelessly. You might be surprised to know that a lot of the big influencers similarly have a team behind them, working to promote their image. Chiara has a full blown staff! Yes, all these people work for her.
If you want recognition, sadly, complaining is not going to make the splash you would want it to. We have as many hours in a day as Beyonce (110 million followers) and Serena Williams (7.3 million followers). We also have as many hours in a day as Aimee and Chiara. A lof of the bloggers I saw complaining about the Revolve incident had beautiful feeds but less than 200K followers. It’s not good enough yet. Work harder.** Same goes for me.
All that to say, strive to be the Beyonce of blogging. Be so good that noone can deny you. On your list of goals for 2018, make ‘amassing 1 million followers’ one of your goals. It wasn’t one of mine, but now it is (and now that it is, I realize how big of a task it is, but I’m down). Money talks, and followers are the new currency. I am blessed to have two strong brands, but they could definitely be stronger! So by the end of 2018, I hope to get 1 million with @ClaireSulmers and raise FBD to 2.5 million. Or even 4 million. Why not?
Even armed with that ammunition, we still might not get invited to the Revolve get aways, but that’s ok. Many more doors will fly open, and of course you’ll have a bigger platform so that your voice and concerns continue to get heard.
Just a thought.
Love & Light,
*Yes, I know these women have enjoyed privilege, but few can deny that their pictures are popping. Study the feeds of these women who have 4million + followers and see how you can step your game up. I thought I was doing something, but nah. It’s time to turn up.
**Get books and find tips. I learned a lot just by reading this article from @CellaJaneBlog (she plans her grid and puts her pictures through 3 different apps before posting. Wow). I believe Aimee has a book and @MicahGianeli teaches a class. Though they look effortless, they are anything but. Do the work. I honestly never thought about doing any of this before I decided to give myself the 1 million follower challenge, but now it’s game on! When I publish my red pix today, I will put them through VSCO and Afterlight.
**I’m off to do my work out tape. I was supposed to start at 6:30 but got distracted blogging. Something I also want to do in 2018 is to put myself first no matter what. This coulda waited, but hey, writing is my passion.
***I was gonna do an easy abs workout because I’ve been getting it in for the past few days. But no. I’m going to do intense cardio. If you really want something, don’t slack. Go for it!!
****One last thing: in the meantime, support black owned brands or brands that support brown and black people. Yesterday, I wore Muehleder and Duckie Confetti (black owned), a Rick Owens jacket, and Givenchy accessories. Until the industry gets it right, spend money on people and brands that look like you and support you.