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Vogue Brazil Style Director Resigns After Hosting A “Slavery” Party

Earlier this year, Donata Meirelles, the long-time style director of Vogue Brazil, resigned from her top spot after images floated around the Internet of her opulent, and very racist, 50th birthday bash.

The photos showed Meirelles, who served in the position for 7 years, seated on an extravagant chair while donning an elaborate pink dress and gold jewelry. Beside her were two Black women dressed in all white.

If you’re familiar with Brazil’s colonial history, the images will evoke master-slave portraits. In these photos, white Brazilian slave-owners sat on a cadeira da sinhá, an ornate chair similar to the one Meirelles was seated on, as enslaved Africans stood alongside them.

The February 8 birthday celebration, which has since been called a slavery-themed party, received a lot of backlash online.

Instagram user Roberto Sakiyama said, “The photo clearly and unfortunately refers to a Brazil of autocracy and slavery, where Black people were serving and white people tended to.” Another user named Rita Batista highlighted the undeniable resemblance between Meirelles’s photo and a portrait of a Sinhá, a female slave-owner, with two house slaves.

@ritabatista / Instagram

Meirelles responded to the reprisal the next day. According to her, the party was not themed. Rather, the celebration took place in the state of Bahia, where Afro-Brazilian culture thrives and it is common to see women there wearing traditional white garbs on Fridays, the same day of the party. She also said she was sitting on an Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé, not a master’s chair.

Still, Meirelles, who ultimately resigned, said in a post in Portuguese, “if we caused different impressions than these, I am sorry.”

Regardless if Meirelles intended to or not, some Black feminist advocates in Brazil believe her photos glamourize white supremacy and racial inequality in the South American country.

“The black women were used as objects to create an exotic scene,” Stephanie Ribeiro, who writes the column #BlackGirlMagic in the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire, told the Guardian. “It’s reminiscent of colonialism and romanticizes those times. She was recreating the image where whites are superior and blacks are dehumanized.”

More enslaved Africans were forcibly shipped to Brazil than any other country in the world. In fact, of the 10.7 million Africans who survived the grisly voyage across the Atlantic between 1525 and 1866, an estimated 4.9 million went to Brazil, where slavery wasn’t abolished until 1888. In comparison, about 388,000 arrived in North America.

While more than half of Brazil’s population identifies as Black or mixed race, and the country is unmistakably multiracial, the legacy of this brutal history continues through racialized violence, discrimination, economic inequity and media stereotypes.

Vogue Brazil responded to the party and its backlash in a statement.

@voguebrasil / Instagram

“Regarding … Donata Meirelles’ 50-year party, Vogue Brasil deeply regrets what happened and hopes that the debate generated will serve as a learning experience.”

The publication claims it did not take the feedback lightly and has plans to “broaden the voices within the team and create, on a permanent basis, a forum formed by activists and scholars who will help define content and images that combat these inequalities.”

However, this is not the first time any of the Vogue brands has been accused of racism.

According to Complex, between 1892, when Vogue magazine started, and 2012, only 14 of its 1,416 covers were of people of color. As if that alone wasn’t bad enough, oftentimes when Black and brown people are portrayed it’s done in a racist manner. In 2008, for example, LeBron James shared the cover with white Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen. The star basketball player was styled to appear like King Kong, a dangerous animal, in the shoot. In 2011, Italian Vogue ran a piece on hoop earrings that were compared to the jewelry of enslaved Africans. The editors’ even titled the article “Slave Earrings.” The following year, the same publication published a story called “Haute Mess” that made fun of Black and Latina style and aesthetics as “ghetto.”

Racism is not uncommon in the fashion industry, and Vogue Brazil’s former style director’s party and photos are among the latest examples.

Read: This Racist Ad By Dove Is The Most Uncomfortable Thing You’re Gonna See Today

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Puerto Rican Model With Down Syndrome Stuns At New York Fashion Week

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Puerto Rican Model With Down Syndrome Stuns At New York Fashion Week

sofiajirau / Instagram

The world of fashion is notoriously a parade of homogeneity. While certain brands make valiant attempts to diversify the faces and designs that represent their lines, it’s true that there is a world of progress to be made. Which leads us to our praise and worship for Sofía Jirau.

Sofia Jirau is a 22-year-old Puerto Rican model with Down Syndrome.

She is, to say the least, a true jefa whose recent appearance on the runway at a New York Fashion Week show is undoubtedly a game-changer. While walking the runway this past week, the model lived out her dream of not only modeling in New York but also shaking up its fashion scene.

“When I was little, I looked myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and a businesswoman,’” Jirau told People in a recent interview.

And just look at her now.

Jirau got her start back in 2019 when she signed with INprende, an agency that works to represent models and faces like Sofia. Since making her deal, Jirau has gone on to model for designers like Kelvin Giovannie and Marisa Santiago. 
“I was born for this and I want to show the world that I have everything a model needs to shine,” Jirau wrote in a post about her NYFW debut on Instagram.

Here’s to hoping for more of this!

This Woman’s Disability Was Holding Her Back From Posting ‘Sexy’ Photos Until The Internet Gave Her A Big Collective Hug

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This Woman’s Disability Was Holding Her Back From Posting ‘Sexy’ Photos Until The Internet Gave Her A Big Collective Hug

More often than not, when posting something on social media, we assume that people’s reactions will be mostly negative. We hit ‘publish’ and brace ourselves for the negative outbursts. That’s what Nila Morton did when she posted a photo of herself, all done up and ready to party. She was worried about posting pictures that were a little more ‘sexy’ than her usual photo because she felt she didn’t embody the standard of beauty. But instead, the internet came through with messages of love and support. 

Nila Morton of Greenville, South Carolina was born with a rare muscular condition called Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy.

Nila’s condition causes impairments in muscle growth and strength, and leads to severe muscular weakness and exhaustion. She was worried about posting pictures that made her feel good about herself, or that were ‘too sexy’, because she felt she didn’t embody the standard image of beauty.

Morton uses a wheelchair but does what she can to express herself with her appearance.

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Oh so pretty! #prophytestatus💕💚

A post shared by Nila Morton (@nilanmorton) on

This includes styling her hair, doing her makeup, and dressing well. She likes to dress up when she goes out for an event, but she always shied away from sharing any of the “sexy” photos taken of her, because she feared the criticism of living with a disability.

Finally this past weekend, Morton decided to post two photos of herself, wearing a cute, little black dress.

“I usually don’t post pictures of myself when I have a nice dress on or when I go out…because I get nervous about comments since I’m not society’s view of disability,” Nila Morton told BuzzFeed News. “I decided that I should just post it because I felt beautiful and sexy.”

Over the weekend, after getting dressed up and going out, Morton decided to post the photos. 

It was in the early hours of Sunday morning and she figured she could just go to bed right after, “just in case it backfired,” she said, laughing. 

But to her surprise, the reaction was entirely different to what she’d expected

By the time she woke up, her tweet was already going viral. It’s currently been retweeted over 36,000 times and liked over half a million times. Mostly, Morton has been reading floods of extremely supportive comments from people on Twitter.

As a result, Morton realized:

“Getting that much positive feedback made me smile and anxious at the same time. I know that some people had negative things to say, but I saw how people had my back, which made me realize that I should never be nervous to show off myself.”

In the comments, Twitter users had Morton’s back.

Many users expressed how beautiful she was and hoped she would continue to share. “Out of your comfort zone should be your New Zone,” someone wrote. And the positive comments keep on coming!

Seeing so many positive comments on one young woman’s vulnerable post is such a heartwarming experience. 

The tweets included memes professing users’ STAN status. People hyped her up, thanked her for sharing and for being a role model. All in all, this post taught Nila, and many others, that sometimes, the internet actually has our back. 

Nila’s rare form of muscular dystrophy causes the muscles in her legs to deteriorate, and she can only travel short distances without needing her wheelchair.

It made her the target of cruel classmates who told Nila ‘no-one would love her’, but the brave woman refused to let their comments thwart her dreams of becoming a beauty queen – and she’s already won two titles after competing alongside able-bodied contestants.  

Morton has competed against able-bodied contestants in beauty pageants and has won several titles!

As a tenacious teen, she managed to turn the criticism into something positive by pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a model —after noticing a lack of models with disabilities. Since then she’s competed against able-bodied competitors in pageants and been named Miss Mauldin Teen USA and Miss Congeniality at Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2017.

‘I’m a girl who has been bullied for having a disability and being different,’ said Nila in a 2017 interview with The Daily Mail.

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Shea Butter Baby🧡✨🥰 📸: @lynnnspiration

A post shared by Nila Morton (@nilanmorton) on

“I’m embracing that I have a difference and want to show others that they don’t need to change for society.”