The marketplace allows designers to customize their own merchandise and use a computerized system of stock models already in place, which can explain how something like this happens. YouTuber Jackie Aina first pointed out the controversial photos on Twitter last Tuesday:
Some of the other shirts displayed on white models said “Melanin & Mascara,” “Unapologetically Black,” Angry Black Woman” and a quote by Maxine Waters.
Zazzle gave HuffPost a statement about the mismatched photos and what the retailer is doing to fix it:
Zazzle is largely a community of designers and makers – individual members who have opened Zazzle accounts to promote and sell their designs and products. We are an open user-generated content marketplace where designers and users can freely upload any design as long as it complies with the terms of our User Agreement. Our designers and customers have a diverse set of views and convictions; we provide a digital platform where they can upload a wide variety of products, whether they are satirical, funny, whimsical, political so long as they observe the aforementioned guidelines.
In the case of ‘Black Girl Magic’ T-shirts on the Zazzle website, each designer is shown a series of pre-posed randomized model shots upon which their design is placed. It’s always possible that gender, race and other attributes of the model do not match up to the specifics of the design, given the ratio of our millions of designs to the 100 or so T-shirt styles we offer. We’re working on an interim fix that doesn’t mismatch out-of-context content to models. At Zazzle, we’re committed to diversity and are working on increasing the diversity of the pre-posed model shots within the T-shirt range itself.
Though the initial outrage toward Zazzle occurred last week, late July ― and there are a few black models wearing the shirts ― the problem clearly hasn’t been fixed on the website, despite the company’s statement. The below screenshots were taken Wednesday, Aug. 2:
You can see the same stock model is used in some of the photos:
It’s past time for an update.