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Another Fashion Week Brings Another Case Of Cultural Appropriation: This Designer Had White Models Wearing Cornrow Wigs

Fashion has a long history of pulling from and appropriating other cultures. Whether it’s in campaigns or on runways, brands and designers have made many missteps over the years —so although disappointing that this still happens in 2020, it’s not big news when each Fashion Week we hear of yet another instance of it. And this Paris Fashion Week was no exception. Japanese brand Comme Des Garcons has come under fire for sending white models wearing cornrow wigs down the runway.

Comme des Garçons has been called out for appropriating a typically black hairstyle.

People were quick to point out the cultural appropriation after the looks —which bore a close resemblance to hairstyles typically worn by black people— hit the runway, and worn by white models. Rather than every model wearing the wigs, a number of the black models who walked in the show sported their own hair.

Julien d’Ys, the hair stylist who has collaborated with designer Rei Kawakubo for many years, explained his influences on Instagram.

Citing Tutankhamen and Ancient Egypt, the hair stylist’s posts drew positive comments from fashion names including Marc Jacobs —another designer who’s also been accused of cultural appropriation after he sent models down the runway wearing dreads.

d’Ys initially chose to dismiss the criticism as “stupide.”

In a comment, in response to the mounting backlash, he posted an image of the boys featured in the show along with an apology. “My inspiration for the Comme des Garçons show was Egyptian prince a look I found truly beautiful and inspirational. A look that was an hommage (sic). Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did, I deeply apologise.”

However, despite more than 2,000 likes for his post, many of the comments underneath were negative.

Devinpink67 said: “Looks appropriate on the handsome dark skin model, a joke on the others next to and behind it never looks right but stupidity ridiculous braids, cornrows, twist, bantu knots, afro puffs, afros, slicked baby hairs REPEAT ARE B-L-A-C-K CULTURAL RELATED.”

The wigs were part of the company’s men’s autumn and winter collection on show as part of Paris Fashion Week.

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Back in 2018, @commedesgarcons cast their first black models in over 20 years for their FW18 show, following critical comments from netizens who noticed they hadn’t featured a black model since 1994. Last night, the avant-garde Japanese label seemed to have taken a step back with their men’s show, this time putting white models in cornrow wigs. Some black models also sported the wigs, while some wore their own hair. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Vogue Runway called them “odd”, which is a curious statement in itself, considering the stigma and discrimination of natural hair and hairstyles that embrace cultural identity (braids, Bantu knots, twists and locs). It was only in 2015 that Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic said that Zendaya’s dreadlocks at the Oscars made her look like she “smells like patchouli oil or weed”. Suffice it to say, CDG’s decision to appropriate the braided hairstyles for white models is indeed problematic. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ On the positive side, more states are legislating to ban race-based hair discrimination, following New York and California’s decision in 2019. Dieters, what do you think about the wigs at Comme des Garçons? The look on the model’s faces say it all, don’t you think? • #commedesgarcons #culturalappropriation #pfw #pfwm #pfw20 #cornrows #wig #wigs #caucasity #commepocracy #reikawakubo #adrianjoffe #discrimination #hair #naturalhairstyles #locs #locstyles #blackhair #blackhairstyles #naturallycurly #protectivestyles #goodhair #model #malemodel #avantgarde #cdgconverse #cdgplay #cdg #vogue #dietprada

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Critics on social media called the styling for Friday’s show “offensive”. The infamous Instagram account diet_prada —who has become the unofficial fashion police, shared a post saying that “the avant-garde Japanese label seemed to have taken a step back with their men’s show, this time putting white models in cornrow wigs”.

Another comment under d’Ys’s post suggested: “In future, to avoid facing this heat again when taking inspiration from a culture that is not yours, PLEASE work closely with one from said culture to guide you in doing it properly.

instagram @juliendys

“Your intention might not have been to culturally appropriate Egyptian culture, however your lack of care or awareness in executing it is extremely reckless and hence why it is deemed as cultural appropriation. Education alone avoids these situations, so learn from this and keep it pushing.”

The brand sent an apology to Dazed magazine

“The inspiration for the headpieces for Comme des Garçons menswear FW’20 show was the look of an Egyptian prince. It was never ever our intention to disrespect or hurt anyone – we deeply and sincerely apologise for any offence it has caused.”

Designers often apologize in these situations after the backlash, but in the year 2020 these situations shouldn’t even happen in the first place. 

Despite the countless times brands have been called out for doing so —and the plethora of information available about how using these traditional black hairstyles on white models is appropriation, and why it matters so much— the issue still happens. 

This isn’t the first time Comme des Garcons has been called out for lack of diverse representation. 

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Back in 2018, @commedesgarcons cast their first black models in over 20 years for their FW18 show, following critical comments from netizens who noticed they hadn’t featured a black model since 1994. Last night, the avant-garde Japanese label seemed to have taken a step back with their men’s show, this time putting white models in cornrow wigs. Some black models also sported the wigs, while some wore their own hair. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Vogue Runway called them “odd”, which is a curious statement in itself, considering the stigma and discrimination of natural hair and hairstyles that embrace cultural identity (braids, Bantu knots, twists and locs). It was only in 2015 that Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic said that Zendaya’s dreadlocks at the Oscars made her look like she “smells like patchouli oil or weed”. Suffice it to say, CDG’s decision to appropriate the braided hairstyles for white models is indeed problematic. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ On the positive side, more states are legislating to ban race-based hair discrimination, following New York and California’s decision in 2019. Dieters, what do you think about the wigs at Comme des Garçons? The look on the model’s faces say it all, don’t you think? • #commedesgarcons #culturalappropriation #pfw #pfwm #pfw20 #cornrows #wig #wigs #caucasity #commepocracy #reikawakubo #adrianjoffe #discrimination #hair #naturalhairstyles #locs #locstyles #blackhair #blackhairstyles #naturallycurly #protectivestyles #goodhair #model #malemodel #avantgarde #cdgconverse #cdgplay #cdg #vogue #dietprada

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In 2018, the Japanese fashion house cast its first Black model in over 20 years. Yup, in 2018.

The last few years have seen many fashion giants accused of cultural appropriation and even racism after a series of high profile scandals. 

Gucci was embroiled in a blackface controversy last year, while Prada faced outrage over a set of racially insensitive figurines in 2018. As a result, many in the industry are taking steps to make their brands more inclusive and representative, with both Gucci and Prada hiring diversity panels in the hopes of avoiding past mistakes.

Comme des Garcons’s appropriation of traditional West African hairstyles contributes to a common trend in the fashion industry, where Black culture is used by non-Black creatives to add an “edge” to design.

AOC Wants Coronavirus ‘Reparations’ For Minority Communities

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AOC Wants Coronavirus ‘Reparations’ For Minority Communities

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For minority groups, there’s no denying that COVID-19 has had extreme effects.

According to reports COVID-19 deaths have appeared at disproportionate amounts in African-American and immigrant communities. In New York, where COVID-19 deaths have reached all highs, nearly a third of New York City’s infections are in Queens- a city with one of the most diverse populations in the world. More alarming is the fact that the hardest-hit neighborhoods are ones populated by undocumented and working-class people. In a recent interview with Democracy Now! Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Trump’s response to the pandemic for its part in the many deaths occurring across the United States highlighting them “deaths of incompetence,” “deaths of science denial” and “deaths of inequality.”

In her recent interview, Ocasio-Cortez called for coronavirus reparations for minorities.

Speaking about the enormous racial and ethnic disparity in the Coronavirus cases appearing in hospitals across the country, particularly the deaths that are occurring, Ocasio-Cortez emphasized the need for government intervention. Particularly when it comes to Queens, New York. “This is one of the most working-class and, as you mentioned, blackest and brownest communities in New York City. It is extraordinarily dense. Even for New York City, it is a very dense and densely populated community,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “It’s no surprise that, you know, in the wake of this pandemic, right after the Trump administration announced its public charge rule, which basically said, if you are undocumented and seek public services, public healthcare, SNAP, WIC, etc., then you will be essentially put on a fast track to either denial of citizenship or outright deportation — and so, now that we have this pandemic and it is hardest-hitting in communities that are heavily immigrant and also with strong historically black communities, as well, that people are either afraid to go to Elmhurst Hospital out of the cost or out of sheer fear that they will be put in the public charge list.”

Since the rise of the pandemic, Ocasio-Cortez has eagerly pointed out the higher numbers of COVID-19 fatalities in low-income communities and its roots in underlying inequality.

“COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities,” Ocasio-Cortez expressed her outrage in a Tweet last Friday. “Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions,” the Bronx-born lawmaker added. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.”

Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

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Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

michelleobama / INSTAGRAM

The Queen Mother of the United States is back with some great advice.

The former First Lady recently took to Twitter to encourage her legions of followers to show some gratitude and love for the health care workers and other emergency personnel exposing them to great risk at hospitals and medical facilities during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the former first lady, 56, encouraged her Twitter followers to show appreciation for the work that is being done to save lives as the virus continues to infect millions of people across the globe.

“If you’re feeling as grateful to––and in awe of––our first responders as I am, now is the time to let them know,” Obama wrote in a post showing photos of handwritten letters being sent to healthcare providers. “A handwritten letter, a social media post, or a simple ‘thank you’ text can go a long way in showing our appreciation for these heroes among us.”

Earlier this month, Obama’s husband Barack Obama reminded Twitter users that “We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our health professionals and everybody who’ll be on the front lines of this pandemic for a long while. They’re giving everything. May we all model our own behavior on their selflessness and sacrifice as we help each other through this.”

Of course, it’s not the first time Michelle Obama has offered encouragement that was inspiring.

Michelle Obama has always been a woman who keeps it real, particularly when it comes to the sexism women experience on a daily basis. In a conversation at the Obama Foundation’s Inaugural Summit, Obama dropped some knowledge on how families often inadvertently raise entitled boys and men. In a conversation she held alongside poet Elizabeth Alexander, Obama hit families with some hard questions about their role in creating toxic masculinity, and Latinas were totally there for it.

During the summit, Obama asked families to look at the way they raise their sons and recognize how that contributes to a world where men and women are not treated as equals.

The former First Lady pointed out that when families raise their sons and daughters differently, they ultimately end up rearing boys who turn into men that inherently believe they deserve special treatment and exploit others. “I think we pay for that a little bit and that’s a ‘we’ thing because we are raising them. And it’s powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean?” she asked. “Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much, so they feel a little entitled?”

If you’re interested in sending gratitude to healthcare providers, there’s an easy way to do so online!

Many hospitals are allowing people to submit notes online. Recently UChicago Medicine shared a form on their website that gives people an opportunity to send a message to their frontline medical workers.