Monday, July 7, 2014

Please Excuse My Blackness



Discussions on diversity, Blogging as a black person, andre leon talley
Recently, I had a Facebook passersby (white person) comment to me,   “Why are most of your models black? There are some pretty white girls that are big too. Just asking!” Now before I dive into this question, I will say first that I am black and biracial woman.  My parents (white mom, black dad) are still married to this day and I was raised by both of them. I can honestly say that I do identify with black culture; this is common amongst biracial individuals living in the United States.  It’s what I am most comfortable with, because regardless of my mixed heritage I will always be a woman of color and I experience life as such.  With that being said, because I am biracial and I have lived with two different cultures in my household, I do think that I have perspective on both. I do recognize that all black people do not think the same and all white people don’t think the same, but I can recognize cultural similarities within each group.   I also know that even though I consider myself a black woman, my experiences can still be different from a person that grew up with two black parents. I say all this to say, that I have nothing against any race, I judge people on their individual characteristics as opposed to stereotypes.

Now, I get a lot of comments, especially on Facebook and I read a lot of them too.  I’m used to getting a variety of comments and such, but this one, I must say, I just couldn’t shake.  There was also a commenter (white person) that came along in support the previous commenter and said,

Great perspective. We all are ONE. Individuals, but sharing so much similarity. I LOVE your style, beautiful. After all, we are each gorgeous in our own right. Stay free!”

Me:  This isn't a page of models. It's associated with my blog at www.garnerstyle.blogspot.com. Most of the images are me and I'm black. I share images of other blogger's styles that I like. I don't see color…I see style.

Now I’ve been thinking about these comments for a few weeks.  They got under my skin for several reasons.  The first being is that on any give occasion I do my usual rounds at the drugstore check out to pick up fashion magazine and there can be six different magazines with six different white faces on the cover. Now I wonder if any of these commenters went over to the Facebook pages of Vogue, Glamour, and/or Elle and commented on the similarity of their models.  Did they ask why are there so few people of color on your pages?  Why is diversity, in this case, only important when it comes to diversifying in the interest of a white person? 

The second reason I was bothered with these comments is that I truly believe that the plus size movement has been built by the grassroots efforts of women of color.  The majority of U.S. plus size bloggers are African American and Latina and two major movements in the plus size community, Full Figured Fashion Week and Plus Model Magazine, were both founded by women of color. Culturally, women of color are taught that nothing is wrong with being bigger/curvier, so it was almost natural that women of color spearheaded this movement. Now if you look at the major plus size online retailers, most of the plus size models that have the major contracts from major agencies and that you see from site to site are white.  Now did either of these commenters ask any of these plus size retailers why are there so few plus size models of color on their websites?

My third reason for discontent was that the comments only talked about color, not style.  One thing I pride myself on is that I share great plus size fashion and other types of fashionable imagery.  I take pride in the imagery that I share. A lot of the fashion photos are my own, but when I do share another person’s photo it is because I am truly impressed.  I’ve shared style on people that happen to be white, black, Asian, etc., because they looked awesome…nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, the thing that stuck with me the most is the phrase said, “sharing so much similarity.”  Hmmmm. Now I could go a couple of ways with this. My first thought is to scream, “All black people don’t look alike.” That’s always the default, right? My second issue with these words is that there is an assumption that there isn’t diversity among black people. I know that some people may not take the time to know and understand that, but there is. Hell, there is diversity in me. On the rare occasion that I get to throw down my white card, the race that you want to be represented is technically 50% there.  It may not look how you think it should look, but it’s there. In the same breath, diversity doesn’t always have to be chalked up to a skin color.  For me, because my site is based on plus size fashion diversity, more than skin color diversity I share different body types from other bloggers, so that my readers can have a body type to relate to and to aid in dressing their own.

Believe me, I do understand where they coming from as both a black woman and a plus size woman. It’s important to see your images portrayed in media. While those two ladies wanted to see themselves on my little space on Facebook, I think their own prerogative didn’t allow them to think about what they were saying and maybe the insensitivity of their comments to me as a black fat woman who rarely sees her own imagery except on the Facebook page she calls home. This brings me to the t-shirt that I am wearing in the photo.  The photo has Andre Leon Talley on the front. There are so many fashion icons that I love that are white, but their images are always in the forefront and easily accessible. It’s nothing for me to go to the local IKEA and get a picture of Audrey or Marilyn, but I have to search the earth to find imagery of Andre, Grace Jones, or Iman. I was so excited to purchase my tee shirt from CandyBomb and I commend Fashion Bomb Daily founder for making these available.  Now, I’m free to rock Andre or Audrey.  In the end, it’s all about having choices.  So to those two commenters, I say feel free to take what you need from my blog, but you should also research bloggers that you feel that represent you racially, because you will always have the choice to find your imagery in abundance. Me, on the other hand, I will have to take the images that I am rationed or create my own. 
Discussions on diversity, Blogging as a black person, andre leon talley


Discussions on diversity, Blogging as a black person, andre leon talley


Discussions on diversity, Blogging as a black person, andre leon talley
Tee - CandyBomb, Skirt - c/o Eloquii, Clutch - Cameodebore, Shoes - Lane Bryant (soldout), Necklace - Shop (soldout), Lip - MAC Candy Yum Yum, Belt - City Chic

Disclaimer: I know that articles on race and diversity can open up conversations and commentary from opposing views.   Feel free to comment your input below, but please note any comment that is seen as abusive will be deleted.   

45 comments:

  1. I was coming to comment on how absolutely fabulous you look. I love the pink skirt, Andre tee & gold bits, it's all fabulous!

    But now I need to shake my head in embarrassment for those other commentors. Total drekitude!!

    <3
    margot

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Margot for your support. That truly means a lot.

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    2. I agree I smh to the two commenters.

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  2. After the whole natural hair kerfluffle I don't have the energy to begin to break down the many issues in that comment. Kudos to you for answering it in the manner you did. It's late here on the East coast. I'mma order that Andre tee and go to bed.

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    Replies
    1. Oh wow!! So someone just told me about. I have to go and read everything for myself, but I heard it was rough. LOL at ordering the Andre tee and going to bed.

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    2. Milaxx...You took the words out of my mouth. This all sounds vaguely familiar. We can't have anything with out them wanting to be included. Can't we have our own little slice of heaven???

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  3. Beautiful post and very well written. I've been a follower of yours for some time now and although I hardly comment, I truly look forward to reading your posts. In fact you were one of the very first bloggers on my blog roll :) However, as you stated in this post, style is style. It is not attached to a certain race or color. My blog roll is very diverse and it includes not only you but many others such as Nicolette Mason, Allison McGevna, Gabi of gabifresh, and Nadia Aboulhosn to name a few. I follow people who inspire my style, and that even includes a diverse range of straight style bloggers as well. Continue doing what you're doing! You look awesome in that pink skirt and graphic tee, by the way :)

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  4. First of all you look amazing today! Gorgeous combo as always! Second, I think that people always need to find a reason to put a race into things. Why cant something just be about fashion. As Kishina I also follow diverse bloggers and I love the different styles that you all provide, not once did I ever think, oh it only looks good on her cause shes black/white/mixed/asian etc. No its because I can relate to you all fashionwise! I hope you dont get bothered by superficial comments like that again! You are above that!
    cookieschaosncestlavie.blogspot.com/

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  5. Love this post (words and outfit), Chastity. I'm so glad you took the time to explain the lack of diversity in fashion, especially plus size fashion. It is sad when people who are a part of the majority don't recognize how people of color are excluded in fashion and in a variety of other ways.

    Sheri
    www.shapelychicsheri.com/

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  6. What I initially thought was an awesome outfit post has become so much more. Kudos to you for touching on the subject with such conviction and although a long read, you've made it a captivating one. You were amongst the first ps bloggers I nearly 4 years ago and have followed your growth and style from Georgia to Dallas and now Cali!

    Keep it up luv!!

    http://www.CurvEnvy.com

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  7. No further comment needed. You did it. Let me get that belt off ya though lol .

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  8. Round of applause to you for standing up and challenging closed minded thoughts!! What you are doing for plus size women of ALL races and colors is amazing! Thank you for what you do and as always you look fabulous!

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  9. I come here because you're built like I am and I love seeing someone who can rock fashion in a way I don't have a clue how to do. It reminds me I too can look hot if I put my mind to it!

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  11. Very well written; thank you for taken the time to share your thoughts. And, there is no need for us to excuse your blackness!

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  12. LOVE this post:) Thank you for sharing your thoughts. BTW love the outfit.

    http://prettypiecesshop.com/

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  13. I love your style and thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Those internet trolls get to us from time to time, no need to apologize. We all love you just the way you are .It was nice meeting you at FFFWeek 2014. Hugs!!
    Farrah..=)
    XOXO

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  14. I've gotten this question a few times on Tumblr. I never understood the purpose of it. You made a great point asking whether or not do people write to ELLE, Vogue or Cosmo ask why they don't have enough women of color.

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    Replies
    1. I say if you are going to scream diversity...you need to scream it across the board!

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  15. Being a plus size white woman, all my favorite plus size fashion bloggers just happen yo be womenof color,but I admire all of them for they're fierce fashion sense and unique contributions to plus size fashion. Love you and all that you do!

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  16. Preach sista! Nobody is perfect and we can't please everyone... We must do what we love... I'm glad you address the situation.. But I pray you will never have to in the future. This is a bottomless pit subject.. Even Though you make sense to what your saying... The commenters will make it into drama... Be you and keep it fashion forward;)

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  17. I am so glad I found your fb page and your blog because it has awakened in me the old fashionable me I used to be before marriage and kids. To those two commentators if your comments have nothing to do with fashion please keep them to yourself.

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  18. Enough said & Well Said...Now back to the fashion I am so giddy about these Tshirts and I did not know they were in plus size I have to get me one ASAP..I love the Grace Jones and Donyale one.

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  19. I'm so loving what you do!! I've seen both race on and in the Plus Magazine. I'm trying to get on the cover of one, lol... You cant please everyone hun, and you replied very professionally. Keep up the fabulous work, you motivate me more!

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  20. That response was perfect. Now KEEP DOING YOU. You have the most successful plus size blog for a reason. Your formula has been working like a charm thus far so *shrugs* who cares what they say.

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  21. I think we big white girls owe a hell of a lot to African American women in regards to body love and positive body image. Owning our space in the world and being bold, brash and bootilious hasn't so much come from European/Western Society. We've been taught to feel guilty, and squeeze and blend in.

    For me, personally, it's Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Motormouth Maybell... even the angular Grace Jones, that have taught me to embrace myself and own it.

    I acknowledge my debt to be beautiful, dark skinned, divas.

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  22. I remember being a teenager/young adult and seeing my body type on these fierce African American women....and thinking "these black girls look AMAZING in "my" body! Why can't I look/feel/act/dress that way? I grew up in a part of the country with very little diversity...I was out of place simply by being little, dark, and curvy instead of tall, blonde, and athletic. Finding the plus size fashion blogging community (and of course, a lot of fierce and amazing black women) has done so much to teach me to accept and love my body for what it is....and finally understanding that a skin tone a few shades darker is not what makes these women stunning--it is the KNOWING that they're gorgeous, in part due to a culture that CELEBRATES the diversity of its women. We white girls (curvy, athletic, short, tall, young, and old) could definitely learn a thing or two about a culture of respect for a diverse view of beauty.

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  23. Hi Chasity,
    Excellent post! In referencing the numerous magazines that primarily feature white models, the InStyle, People, Vogue, and all other mags you mentioned, when a black or latina are photographed for them, it's the same models and/or celeberties. There are so many more black celebs those mags could feature, yet you would only believe that there are but a few. As a previous comment stated, this conversation could go in SOOOOO many directions.

    I'm glad you got this off your chest!

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  24. Excellent Post Chastity!!! ♥♡♥ -Elocin Plus

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  25. Im white,really really white(with freckles) lol and i follow you because i love your style.Im almost jealous actually as women of color have embraced plus style with such strength:)

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    1. Aww freckles are cute! ...and thank you!

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  26. This post was inspiring...so many don't get it but I love when I see people correct in love and that's exactly what you did!! I love your blog and style and that top is AMAZING! I definitely agree that we need more imagery with black fashion icons on them!! Going to the website now!

    xoxo
    Brittany
    http://lovestyletransform.com

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  27. Been percolating on your post for a day. I support people claiming all parts of their heritage, whatever that may be, and folks who want others to deny any part of themselves are just wrong. But you would have to be walking around with blinders on not to know that positive representations of women of color are in much shorter supply than representations white women. Throw plus-size into the mix, and it is even less. With that being said, it is my personal observation that heavier white women are fat-shamed a lot more by their peers than women of color are. I think white culture values thinness more than black culture does. There is a higher tolerance for “thickness” in black culture and it is even seen as desirable by some, but I haven’t picked up on a similar feeling in white culture at all.

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    1. I'm must agree and add that Latinos are relatively like black culture in embracing bigger women. Your comment is truly on point. There is a lack of black women in main stream media and it's a shame. Great comment!

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  28. Sometimes when we are emotional about things we respond in a way that isn’t logical because we haven’t thought things all the way through. This is a clear indication of that. You said it best, they can definitely find another blog to follow if in fact they are displeased with the content of yours. #byefelishas

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  29. Thank you for this post. And thank you for sharing your impeccable style with all of us. :-)

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  30. You look fabulous! I love the skirt and t-shirt combo, so chic!

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  31. I must agree with your post. The mainstream media does not reflect all races at all, forget size right. I think this is a great post! Love the tee shirt where did you get it?

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  32. It's lovely to see bloggers who value diversity in beauty and style. I am a Black woman who happens to share a blog (ourstylefiles.com) with a white woman; we also have a bi-racial curvy contributor. We all became friends through our love of great fashion and have remained friends because we value each others humanity and love for life and others. We express ourselves through our fashion and, on occasion, we express our love for our different backgrounds through what we wear (for example: http://www.ourstylefiles.com/home/2014/6/9/two-ways-tuesday-deer-dana-tees). Like you, we feel diversity should be celebrated. So continue doing what your doing! Your style is amazing and your support of other women should be applauded!

    James
    Co-Contributor
    ourstylefiles.com

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  33. Many kudos to you for taking a stand. When a cause is all white, no one says a word. When it tips toward being a minority majority, then the cause is questioned. Is is color or ethnicity? My parents are both African American and my siblings and I vary in skin color (from very light to chocolate) and hair texture (straight and fine, naturally curly, coarse and kinky). Our ethnic group is truly a melting pot. African American plus sized women are finally finding their voice within the fashion community. Why should we back down?

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  34. Really though? I actually have an issue about magazines! You're right about the lack of color. I love Allure magazine (for the free samples that are usually inside). My mom brings me a collection of magazines anytime she comes to my house. One day I sat down and counted the number of women who are considered minorities (Asian, Latino, and African American). The collective total was less than 10%. I cried...I'm pregnant and I can't help it right now. This was something I just couldn't take on the chin like normal. I snotted and boo hoo-ed. Then I wiped my face, flipped through the magazine, grabbed my samples, and threw the book in the trash. I told my mom not to bring me any more since then. So, if you decide to be one of the few places where I can find people like myself in a positive and beautiful light, so be it. Tell these commentators to kick large bolder sized rocks and to fluff off, because you have more pictures to take.

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  35. What is that lovely silver-grey nail polish that you are wearing? I would like to purchase a bottle.

    Thank you!

    Chris

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    Replies
    1. Oh it's purplish gray..and it's Taupeless Beach by OPI.

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    2. Thank you Chastity. Purplish grey is even better.

      I just found your blog through Sally at Already Pretty. You and I are the same height, 5'9". However, that's where the similarity stops. You look gorgeous and I am just a mess. I'm extremely fashion challenged to boot. I am trying to learn from folks like you who have sartorial skill and flair. I guess I have improved somewhat.

      Anyway, you said. "There's something about red shoes!" Isn't that the truth! I don't know what it is, but I am drawn to them. And that from a person who doesn't usually pay much attention to shoes. Red leather shoes just make me smile, so I finally bought some.

      Cheers,
      Chris

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  36. I purchased these sandals in black and animal print at an LB outlet Saturday and paid $20.27 for both pair...!!!

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