Tarte Foundation Receives Backlash for Lack of Diversity

By Kalah Mingo

Creative Director

swatch2

The Tarte Shape Tape Foundation launched on Jan. 21 and retails for $39 online and in stores only at Ulta.

 

Recently, the popular makeup brand Tarte Cosmetics has been criticized for the lack of shade range in its launch of the highly anticipated Tarte Shape Tape Foundation. The brand’s newest release had big shoes to fill considering the success of the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer, a cult favorite. However, the new foundations fell massively short of expectations.

The initial launch included two different foundation formulas–hydrating and matte–each with 15 shades.To consumers’ disappointment, there’s an imbalance of shades with 12 varying shades of light to tan and only three deep shades catered to people of color.

Faniché Brown, a third year international affairs major from Darien, Ga., was one of Tarte’s fans that was disappointed in the new line, especially as a woman of color and makeup artist herself.

“It seemed that they put more effort into making sure the lighter shades varied in color and undertone in comparison to the three deeper shades that had the same undertone…,” Brown says.

Brown has done makeup as a hobby for more than five years and currently works as a freelance makeup artist.

Tarte explained that they have plans to expand the shade range with 10 more hues. Still, several popular beauty influencers such as Alissa Ashley, Jackie Aina and James Charles have denounced the product for the exclusive shade range that leaves out deeper skin tones.

Brown had planned on buying the new foundation until she realized the incomplete line didn’t come in her shade.

“…a brand as established as Tarte Cosmetics shouldn’t have launched a product if the line wasn’t complete,” Brown says.

Tarte fans and makeup lovers took to twitter to voice their discontent:

 

https://twitter.com/samrxvn/status/952273069577351168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thisisinsider.com%2Ftarte-cosmetics-shape-tape-foundation-range-2018-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarte later released a statement on their Instagram story in response to the heavy backlash:

“It may be too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way. We all just got so caught up in #shapetapenation and seeing your tweets asking for it… We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible, & we made the decision to move forward before all the shades were ready to go. We know there is no excuse, & we take full responsibility for launching this way. We lost sight of what’s really important in this industry, & for those who feel alienated in our community, we want to personally apologize. We’re doing everything in our power to bring those unfinished shades to market as fast as we can, at any cost. We CAN and WILL DO BETTER.”

Soon after their statement, they released three more deeper shades in each formula, however, not everyone is satisfied with the quick fix:

 

 

https://twitter.com/alliefromup/status/959874533619568642

 

 

Samrin Martin, a public relations major from Lawrenceville, Ga. was not appeased with the additions and suspects it was a marketing strategy.

“As a big brand, they know better,” Martin says. “I feel like this might have been a ploy to receive more attention due to all the backlash.”

Martin is passionate about makeup as she’s worked as a freelance makeup artist with Chanel for five years.

“… these shades are not adequate at all. It is not fair that women of color have to suffer because high-end brands think they are losing money by creating more shades for us,” Martin says.

With brands from Fenty to Huda Beauty, and many more taking the steps to create a more diverse and inclusive line of products, does Tarte have an excuse?

Brown has decided not to buy from Tarte Cosmetics anymore despite her love for their eyeshadows and concealer.

“I will miss my Shape Tape Concealer, but in good conscience,” Brown says. “I can’t support a brand that doesn’t support me.”

The beauty realm expects and demands better. Will the industry listen?

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A Mission With Makeup

Xayla Wilson, co-founder and president of UGA’s new organization, GLAM Dawgs, poses for a portrait in New York City. (Photo by Kayla Foy)

By: Kalah Mingo 

Creative Director 

Rihanna’s recent launch of her new makeup line, Fenty Beauty, has flown off of Sephora shelves everywhere. With a message of diversity and inclusivity, Fenty Beauty focuses on catering to a wide range of skin tones. Xayla Wilson, a makeup enthusiast,  was excited to hear about the release of products for such a large range of diverse skin tones. As a woman of color with a deeper skin tone, she is oftentimes overlooked by cosmetic brands. WIlson became interested in makeup as a teenager, and when she came to the University of Georgia she realized there wasn’t a space for a beauty community. That was something she wanted to change, which led her to start GLAM Dawgs, an on-campus organization created to encourage an affinity for makeup and to empower younger women and men on campus to embrace their inner and outer beauty.

Xayla Wilson 

Age: 20

School Year: Junior

Major: Finance and Management Information Systems

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

When did your interest in makeup begin?

I started experimenting with makeup in probably the 8th grade, 9th grade time frame. I remember I first started using this cheap eyebrow pencil from Family Dollar. . .I worked my way to foundation which was a hot mess, but at the time I didn’t know. There was literally no foundation shade for me at the store. I was using the wrong color, but I was making it work.

How did you realize the need for a makeup community at UGA?

I wanted to put my passion in an organization. . .I noticed the need because there are so many people on campus who do makeup but they do it in isolation. Makeup is one of those things that can unify people. We might not wear the same foundation shade, but we wear the same foundation; we can wear the same eyeliner and it just gives people the opportunity to connect with people that they usually wouldn’t talk to.

What was the process of creating GLAM Dawgs like?

It took a lot of hours, but it all came about with a lot of hard work, a lot of paperwork and just a lot of other people being passionate and making sure I stay on what I’m supposed to be doing and me making sure they stay on what they’re supposed to be doing.

What’s the mission of GLAM Dawgs?

The main purpose is to utilize makeup to empower people. We do that in a variety of ways, whether it’s with programs, the GroupMe, our social interactions or the content we plan on producing. We want to make sure we are teaching people about makeup products, makeup techniques and makeup tools. So, the mission is to do all of that and provide a safe environment for every single person to come and experiment with makeup, however they choose to do so.

As a woman of color, do you feel that people of color are adequately represented in the beauty industry?

No, I don’t. I could probably go in Walmart right now and find a foundation, but if I went maybe two months ago, they definitely wouldn’t have had a foundation shade for me. I think it’s working towards progress and it’s working towards becoming more inclusive and more representative of people of color, but I think there’s a long way to go. It’s fair to recognize the progress, but still I recognize that there’s a lot more to do as well.

How do you believe cosmetic brands can do better?

I think actually listening to people, whether it’s focus groups or social media. Social media is a free way to understand how people like products and what they need. It’s just listening to people and hearing them out.

Rihanna recently launched her new line of makeup, Fenty Beauty, that she hopes will fill the industry void for products that perform across all skin types and tones that includes 40 different foundation shades “so that women everywhere would be included.” Should other cosmetic brands follow her inclusive example?

Yes, of course. With the launch though, I was expecting a little more foundation shades. I didn’t try them all out, but I’m usually the darkest shade or one up from the darkest. I went to Sephora and bought a shade. I was disappointed by the undertones, but since she says she’s launching 80 total shades in the collection I’m going to hold out, but I do think that she made a huge statement by including 40 in her first launch. . .the spectrum she did was huge and I think other brands should model their mission after her…props to her for doing it. It offered a brand that stands for something.

What are you buying from the collection?

Girl, I spent too much money. . .I bought way too much.

fenty

Fenty Beauty launched 90 products in 17 countries at 1,600 stores and online on Sept. 8.  (Photo by Kalah Mingo)

Women of Color Take Their Place in the Business World

by Kalah Mingo

The world of business and entrepreneurship has experienced a shift in the past few years. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, women-owned businesses have grown 45 percent over the past nine years, making the rate of growth five times the national average. Georgia is the second fastest growing state for women-owned firms with a 64 percent increase, only falling behind Florida with a 67 percent increase.

wocbus3

More significantly, businesses owned by women of color have increased by 126 percent since 2007, making up 79 percent of women-owned firms in the past nine years and creating a trend of ethnic diversity in entrepreneurship across the United States.

African American women are one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs in America. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of African American women-owned firms increased by 112 percent. Shirlynn Brownell is the face of the new American business owner. The UGA alumnus from Atlanta, GA, is a part of this success of black female entrepreneurs.

Brownell has her own line of cruelty free, non-toxic nail polish, DKT Polish. She launched her own business with just $5,000 in September of 2016 and it has been growing ever since.

 

brownell
Shirlynn Brownell, owner of DKT Polish, got the idea for her business after she visited a local nursing home in Atlanta to paint the resident’s nails on her 23rd birthday.

“I always loved nail polish. So, it’s been like a right of passage into womanhood in my life,” Brownell says.“I didn’t just want any regular polish. I wanted something that spoke to the causes that I’m passionate about and that’s being mindful of what you put inside of your body just as much as what you put on your body.”

The message of Brownell’s line is to encourage the modern day woman to spend time on herself to promote physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

“It just reminds me to make sure you slow down and take care of you because you can’t take care of anyone else if you’re not well and you can’t fill anyone from an empty cup, ” Brownell says.

Michelle Blue, a 2013 UGA graduate from Lithonia, GA, is a part of this success of black women as well. Blue is the owner and co-founder of Bené Scarves, a luxury scarf company that supports girls’ education in Ghana. The company gives 15 percent of each scarf sold to their non-profit partner SISTAWorks, Inc. The SISTA Scholar program sponsors tuition, book supplies and uniforms for girls continuing their education in Ghana.

“It’s our mission to see them through their full matriculation of school. Whatever girl we start, with we make sure we send her through graduation,” Blue says. “We just hope that our business, our product, our work and the girls that we support is a reflection of the goodness and love that we have.”

The idea for Blue’s company began when she went on study abroad trip in Ghana. She fell in love with the young girls she met on her trip and came back to share her experience with her childhood and current best friend, Sasha Matthews. Their idea for the business came to life their junior year of college. Blue and her co-founder Matthews started their business two weeks after their graduation.

“It was intimidating. I didn’t’ know anything and so I lacked resources and knowledge that you would need to start a business, but I researched a lot. I read a lot,” Blue says. “It was definitely very daunting and a lot of unknowns, but you make baby steps. You make progress and you go from there.”

Blue doesn’t see the increase of businesses owned by women of color as a surprise.

“African American women are one of the most educated groups in the country and I think it’s natural that this is following that. Hopefully, it’s making impacts in our communities and our families so it’s definitely important.”

In the future, the partners hope to grow their business and give back to their community by developing more programs in local Atlanta schools to invest in the community that they come from.

The number and economic contributions of women-owned firms continue to rise at rates higher than the national average with tremendous growth in the number of firms owned by women of color. The new American business owner is on her rise.


Graphics by Kalah Mingo
Photos courtesy of DKT Polish and Bené Scarves

Repeat Offender: The Fashion Industry’s Continuous Use of Blackface

BY MONICA VEGA

The fashion industry can be described as innovative, dynamic, and as a field for self-expression. More so, however, the fashion industry has always been prone to controversy. In an industry where shock value is everything, it seems only logical to introduce a dose of controversy. But when you walk this line, it is easy to go from controversial to plain out offensive.In the fashion industry, this line has been crossed multiple times with the use of blackface.

Some argue that fashion is an art and artists reserve the right to artistic expression. Others argue that the use of blackface is not simply for artistic purposes but rather is a racist and offensive act that perpetuates longtime stereotypes of African-Americans.

Blackface was a theatrical make-up technique popularized in the early 19th century as a form of entertainment. It consisted of white and black entertainers painting their faces using burned bottle corks mixed with grease paint or shoe polish to give the appearance of a darker skin tone. Entertainers also usually painted their lips to make them appear thicker and wore wigs, gloves, and gaudy combinations of formal wear such as swallowtail coats, striped trousers, and top hats[1].

This costume served to exaggerate African-American appearance in a caricatured way and stereotyped them as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious and go-lucky. The performance of blackface was called minstrelsy and consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music.

It was a very popular form of entertainment in the United States, Britain, and other European countries up until World War 1. Afterwards, it died off although some people continued to make use of it in vaudeville, film, and television. [2] Today, any form of purposeful darkening of the skin can be considered blackface because of the offensive connotations associated with it. Minstrelsy shaped the white American’s views of black Americans because blacks were continuously presented as racially and socially inferior.

Knowing the history of blackface and the negative connotations associated with it, it should be logically assumed that it is simply not okay to purposely darken your skin or someone else’s. This logical assumption has not been assumed by many in the fashion industry, or rather has been largely ignored. There have been a significant amount of blackface scandals within the industry.

One of the most influential fashion magazines, Vogue, has committed crimes of blackface multiple times. In 2006, Vogue Italia published an editorial shot by Steven Klein in which a white model was made to look black by dramatically darkening her skin. This issue of Vogue Italia was further criticized for not portraying any models of color in their editorials.[3]

In 2008, possibly in response to the criticism, Vogue Italia made fashion history when it published its “Black Issue” which featured only models of color. The issue was a huge breakthrough but received some furrowed brows due to a beauty editorial featuring Chanel Iman, a black model, in which her face was painted a darker tone than the rest of her body.[4]

Once again in 2009, Vogue made headlines. This time it was due to pictures of model Lara Stone in Vogue Paris (once again shot by Steven Klein) in which her body appeared painted a much darker tone. [5]

Lara Stone

Another publication which has been a repeat offender is the French magazine, Numéro. In 2010, the magazine published an editorial that featured model Constance Jablonski (who is fair-skinned) wearing an afro and bronzed, almost dark skin. Jablonski is pictured alongside a little boy who is African-American. The shoot was presumed to suggest a mother-son relationship between the pair. Many found this to be blatantly offensive and asked why the magazine did not just use a black model if its intention was to portray a black woman. [6]

Constance Jablonski

Numéro came under scrutiny once again in 2013 when it featured an editorial titled “African Queen”. The only mistake? The model was not African. Instead, they once again used a white model and painted her skin a darker shade. [7]The title of the editorial made the appropriation of African culture very obvious.

African Queen

Numéro issued an apology for the controversial shoot and assured that they were merely supporting the artistic judgment of its photographer, Sebastian Kim, whose work “insists on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based discrimination”. [8]

Designers have also come under fire for the use of blackface. In 2013, designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua, along with other Italian designers made headlines after attending a “Disco Africa” themed Halloween party dressed in blackface. In this instance, the use of blackface cannot be excused by the “right to artistic expression”.

Halloween Party

The costume was outright offensive. Dell’Acqua’s face was painted black with white paint around the lips which made him appear almost clownish. He wore a suit with a red bowtie and white gloves, similar to the way blackface performers used to dress. Other guests at the party were also dressed in blackface along with cheetah and zebra prints, tribal designs painted on their faces, and other inappropriate costume interpretations of African culture.[9]

In a more recent blackface controversy, designer Claudio Cutugno sent his models down the runway at Milan Fashion Week 2015 with their faces painted in black glittery make-up. The Italian designer apologized for his choice of make-up saying, “I am extremely sorry if many people thought this make up would result offensive and also that I am racist, but that was not my intent. I am extremely respectful of the Afro-American culture… furthermore my inspiration was coming from a completely different idea which has nothing to do with the theme of Afro-American culture.”[10]

Claudio Runway

The insensitivity of the fashion industry to the issue of blackface is evident. After repeated use of blackface by magazines and designers, it seems that they choose to ignore the backlash that it creates. In many cases, the use of blackface seems to be used as a tool for exploiting the issue of ethnic diversity in the fashion industry.

An important question to ask in the case of the magazines that used white models and darkened their skin is, why not just use actual black models? Although not abundant, a black model is not difficult to find. The poor choices made by magazines and designers of using blackface or giving the appearance of blackface speaks to their lack of cultural sensitivity.

Furthermore, by choosing to cast white models and painting them a darker shade, the fashion industry is perpetuating the idea that dark skin is okay as long as it is accompanied by European features. The continuation of this practice gives the impression that European features are preferable and superior to those of Africans and African descendants because it is the girls with the European features that end up on the cover of the magazines. This embodies and perpetuates the same ideas from the caricatures by blackface performers in the early beginnings of minstrelsy shows.

Although their intention may not be to perpetuate negative African-American stereotypes, this is exactly what they are doing. By choosing to cast a white model instead of a black model they are cultivating the same stereotypes that blackface did in the early 1900’s.

It should be common knowledge that using or suggesting blackface is simply not okay to do. The fact that the fashion industry continues to ignore this is a testament to its lack of principles.


[1] http://www.ushistoryscene.com/1800-1850/stephenfoster/

[2] http://black-face.com/

[3] http://jezebel.com/5383411/fashion-photographer-steven-klein-has-done-blackface-before/ç≈

[4] http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexrees/15-terrible-blackface-fashion-moments#.es5Qnd6xQM

[5] http://jezebel.com/5379708/oh-no-they-didnt-french-vogue-does-blackface/

[6] http://www.styleite.com/news/numero-magazine-blackface/

[7] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/numero-magazine-african-queen_n_2761374.html

[8] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/numero-magazine-blackface-apology-african-queen_n_2772670.html?1361973455

[9] http://fashionbombdaily.com/2013/10/28/fashion-designer-allesandro-dellacqua-wear-blackface-african-themed-disco-africa-halloween-party/

[10] http://www.eonline.com/news/630246/models-walked-the-runway-in-glittery-blackface-for-milan-fashion-week-and-backlash-quickly-followed

Featured Image from Numéro Magazine via Buzzfeed

Is It Really Skin Deep?

BY MONICA VEGA

The Other “-ism”

The problem of racism is undoubtedly one that plagues all areas of the world and has created deep wedges in the path toward world unity and universal acceptance. However, there appears to be a subtler, more intraculturally formidable “-ism” which haunts a majority of the races today. Colorism, defined as discrimination based purely on the social values associated with skin color, is a more divisive issue that drives wedges within races and occurs to varying degrees in the majority of racial groups worldwide.

This cultural phenomenon results in the marginalization of darker skinned persons by lighter skinned persons in multiple ways. Research has linked colorism in the United States to smaller incomes, lower marriage rates, longer prison terms and fewer job prospects for darker-skinned people. What is most shocking is that this trend is not unique to the United States; it exists in most cultures where colorism in prevalent.

Colorism Around the World

In Latin America colorism has been and continues to be a worrisome issue. The origins of colorism in Latin American countries can be traced back to colonization by the Europeans (Spain and Portugal) and later to the transatlantic slave trade, which lead to the institution of slavery of African people in countries like Brazil. As copulation between the white Europeans, the natives and Africans continued, new races began to be born in Latin America. The name Mestizo was given to a child that had one native parent and one Spanish parent. Mulattoes had one Spanish parent and one parent of African descent. Zambos were the offspring of one native parent and one parent of African descent. With the continued interaction between the Europeans and the natives came the idea that when it came to skin color, lighter was better.

Presently, in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil this way of thinking is deep-rooted in their societies and manifests itself in areas ranging from education to employment. Studies conducted in Brazil show that light skinned people finish nearly 9 years of education, while those with darker skin finish 7.6 years. A similar situation occurs in Peru, Colombia, Mexico and other Latin American countries. The differences in education are parallel to the differences in employment and income. In Mexico, 10% of individuals with light skin have highly qualified positions, while only 5% of those with darker skin have similar positions. In Colombia, those with light skin earn twice as much as those with darker skin.

In the Dominican Republic, where approximately 70% of citizens are of African descent, the rejection of “blackness” is all too common. This rejection also has historical ties. The Dominican Republic, unlike most Latin American countries, did not win their independence from Spain. Haiti took over this area of Hispaniola from Spain, and thereafter they were under the rule of Haiti for more than 22 years. After finally gaining their independence, the Dominican people refuted anything Haitian. This included the darker skin associated with Haitians. Anything “black” was stigmatized. Similar attitudes persist in other Caribbean countries. In the Bahamas, “the minority light skinned community forms the majority of the ruling elite,” according to born-Bahamian Elizabeth Pears in her article “Colourism: Why even black people have a problem with dark skin.”

The effects of colorism have been so widely felt that a term for the social hierarchy that they create has been coined: pigmentocracy. A pigmentocracy is essentially what its name implies. It is a social hierarchy based on human skin color that socially resides beneath and reinforces distinctions of class, gender, religion, and ethnic origin. Within a pigmentocracy, members of the society use skin color as the most important parameter for judging other members of their society.

So how far have the effects of colorism and pigmentocracy gone? One should argue: Too far.

Further than affecting economic and educational aspects of a society, colorism seems to have altered the very definition of what is beautiful. Within Latin American countries but more prominently with Asian and African countries, the idea that “lighter is better” is firmly fixed within their society. Lighter-skinned women in these areas are considered more beautiful, are believed to be more successful and more likely to find marriage. This twisted conception of beauty has led many women and some men to the unconventional method of bleaching their skin to appear lighter. Skin lightening creams with names like “Fair & Lovely” flood the Asian and African markets.

A study by the University of Cape Town presents that one in three women in South Africa bleaches her skin and that 77% of Nigerian women use skin lightening products on a regular basis. This is followed by Togo with 59%, South Africa with 35%, and Mali at 25%.

In Asian countries the skin bleaching situation is not any better. In Taiwan, about 50% of women, and increasing amounts of men, pay for continuous dermatological skin lightening services ranging from $300 to $500 per session. In 2010, India’s skin whitening-cream market was worth $432 million and was growing at 18% per year. The fact that cricket players and Bollywood stars in India frequently endorse and promote these products only adds fuel to the growing fire.

Colorism in our Backyard

Colorism in the United States predominantly affects the African-American community. The idea that “lighter is better” within this community can be traced back to the times of slavery. Slaves whose skin was lighter usually received less strenuous jobs, like working in the kitchen, than slaves with darker skin. This preferential treatment was usually attributed to the fact that lighter skin slaves were the master’s offspring.

Lighter skin, which began as a means of survival, is now a cultural obsession. The distinction between light and dark skin continues to be a source of resentment and tension within the black community today. The phrase “pretty for a dark-skinned girl” seems to be thrown around unapologetically further widening the wedge within the African-American community. The principles of the “brown paper bag test”, in which you had to be lighter than a brown paper bag in order to join certain clubs, fraternities, or sororities, still live on today.

Constantly pointing out the distinction between light skin and dark skin only fuels animosity between individuals. Instead of coming together as one, individuals seem to be destroying their own race’s sense of unity.


Sources

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/china-and-its-neighbors/091123/asia-white-skin-treatments-risks

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-20444798

http://www.theinclusionsolution.me/the-impact-of-colorism/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_based_on_skin_color

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/aug/14/indias-dark-obsession-fair-skin

http://racerelations.about.com/od/understandingrac1/a/What-Is-Colorism.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/therootdc/post/the-color-complex-in-black-communities-its-time-for-all-shades-to-unite/2012/10/11/ab9ebabe-d1b9-11e1-adf2-d56eb210cdcd_blog.html

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/GiveMeABreak/story?id=548303&page=2

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/paper_bag_tests_revisited/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/claudio-e-cabrera/dominican-colorism_b_3900808.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2013/10/colourism-why-even-black-people-have-problem-dark-skin

https://face2faceafrica.com/article/colorism-in-ghana#.VO5zb_nF9lg

Cultural Appropriation: Disrespect Made Trendy

BY MORGAN BROWN

As time allows the for more multicultural interactions globally as well as locally, people tend to pride themselves on a perceived aptitude for discussing cultural differences as experienced voices, if not experts. In reality, there is an increased ambiguity that makes it even more difficult to debate, much less agree on, the true distinctions between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is defined as the adoption of elements of a certain culture by a more globally prevalent culture with false assumption of implied mutual consent for this taking. This allows dominant cultures to force an assimilation or acculturation of certain treasure symbols and traditions which belonged to the adopted culture.

Conversely, cultural exchange is openly understood by both cultures to be a two-way street of sharing.

In today’s western cultures, appropriation is implemented freely, if not in esteemed forms, in the fashion industry. Recently, the fashion company Chanel was under some under-publicized criticism for what it called the Chanel “Urban Tie Cap.” Despite the well-constructed, flattering name for the accessory, Black people on social media and other online forums made clear their disapproval of not only the item, but most prominently for the lack of proper credit given.

The “Urban Tie Cap” is quite clearly what African-American people actually refer to as a do-rag, and is generally used by some African American people for functional purposes, not for the purposes of fashion. Typically, a Black woman seen wearing one would be viewed negatively or as looking silly. This contrasts with the message of Chanel, which anticipates its product to be viewed as “trendy.”

The trend of headscarves is a productive example of how cultural appropriation need not exceed international borders, but also often does. At the roots, headscarves in fashion today do seem to be inspired by the customs of African and/or Black women worldwide. The desire of fashion enthusiasts in western cultures to have as many “cute” forms of headscarves as possible has led to the inclusion of styles which originated from women in previously colonized areas such as Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States.

The discourtesy comes in with the fact that for centuries, Black women in these areas wrapped their hair for the sake of convention rather than trendiness. The lack of consideration is almost unsettling when one contemplates that the descendants of slaves and service workers, who still wrap their hair for functionality today as in the past, must now witness this become a fashion statement for the descendants of those who neither share the same roots nor have the same conventionality requirement.

Urban Outfitters is a popular repeat offender, for their seemingly guileless disregard for the cultures from which much of their clothing is inspired. There have been controversies such as in 2013, when they used Ethiopian and Eritrean traditional styles of dress for the sake of consumerism. The dress in question upset many Ethiopians and Eritreans because the dress bore blatant similarities to their traditional wear. Beyond that, people were most upset by the labelling of the dress as a “Vintage Linen 90’s Dress.”

Here, the disrespect can be observed in the fact that most people today would still be able to recognize 90’s styles for women as bright colors, tight fitting clothes, and pants crafted in polyester or denim, rather than the modest, mostly white linen dress produced by the company.

It was enough to incite Ethiopian- and Eritrean-Americans to start a petition in an effort to raise public awareness of the issue as well as gain the attention of Urban Outfitters. The petition, now closed, garnered over seven-thousand signatures.

The petition ends with a moral appeal to Urban Outfitters, saying, “This is a call for you to stop expropriating our cultures, and if you are going to borrow from us, the least you can do is give us credit.”

Some of the disregard is less transparent. In another case, Urban Outfitters showed a hint at its use of other cultures as inspiration. Such was evident in the highly criticized line entitled “Navajo,” which was inspired by Native American traditional style.

To be clear about the breadth of this issue, nearly every clothing company that caters to Western youth is guilty of producing clothes under the ambiguous stylistic classification of “Tribal,” which can apply to any region, but seems to focus on various Native American and African traditional styles.

Cultural exchange is inevitable because of how interconnected the globe is today, and this will only grow to be more true in the future. Overall, this can beneficial to all parts of the world when the exchange is not only equal but voluntary and deliberate.

Not intending disrespect is not equivalent to giving respect. This means that a person who appreciates a culture is not automatically entitled to feel somehow relevant to it. When dominant cultures repeatedly use parts of others’, despite a lack of relevance to it, it diminishes the historical importance and becomes an ostentatious means of entertainment. To suggest that cultures should be flattered or grateful belies prideful arrogance and an ignorant lack of understanding.