News Flash: Slavery is not and will never be in vogue!
While most people don't need such an obvious reminder, this pointed message goes out to Aamna Aqeel. The Pakistani designer has found herself in the middle of a racially charged backlash thanks to her editorial shoot entitled “Be My Slave."
In the spread, which is published in Diva magazine, a white model is seen dressed in various Ageel designs while being catered to by a dark-skinned little boy who looks a lot like a slave. Our assumptions can't be too far off considering the title of the story.
Since when did slavery become an appropriate marketing strategy? We're shocked--as anyone who lays eyes on these images should be. And thankfully we're not alone.
The International Herald Tribune's Salima Feerasta felt the need to address the "vile images of racism and exploitation" and deemed the story "inexcusable." We couldn't agree more.
Feerasta spoke to Aqueel, who denied any intention of racism in the story. In fact, the designer's aim was to shed light on the issue of child labor. Aqueel said that the dark-skinned Baloch child was incidental--“He works in a garage and wanted some work.” As Feerasta so pointedly explains, Aqueel's reasoning doesn't add up and her message fails for many reasons.
It’s facetious of the designer to claim that she was trying to stimulate a debate on child labour. The model wearing her clothes is clearly comfortable with her dominant position. She is not made up in a way that shows her to be the villain of the piece. The use of a dark skinned child in a shoot entitled “Be My Slave” certainly reeks of racism, however much the designer may deny it. And if anything, the shoot seems to condone child labour.
Sadly, this incident will join the list of racially insensitive situations found throughout the fashion industry--from slave-inspired designs, the unapologetic use of Blackface, the whitewashing of runways and the total disregard of diversity. When will these gross attention-seeking antics and blatant displays of racism end? Seriously.
Here's a look at a few photos from Aamna Aqeel's "Be My Slave" shoot. Do you think the images are racist?