Photo via Jenevieve Lyons / Instagram

FashionRace

This white fashion designer thought it was appropriate to use images of starving African children

May 10, 2018
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For reason unbeknownst to us, white fashion designer Jenevieve Lyons is using images of startling African children on her wares. The collection, which was recently shown at Mercedes-Benz fashion week Cape Town 2018, uses photos of past National Geographic covers to adorn the fronts and backs of several of her runway looks. Seemingly a visual allusion to paperboy aesthetic (weird), the models look like walking newsletters. And what’s on the front page? Black pain.

Describing her collection as “visual parables”, its a bizarre and tasteless choice that exploits black pain for commercial gain. Perhaps its meta-commentary on the fact that National Geographic did the same thing through decades of publishing the same exploitative images on their covers, a racist history NatGeo has coped to and apologized for doing. If Lyons’ intent in using the images came from a well-meaning attempt to call out how black bodies are exploited, then surely she knows the 130-year-old scientific and cultural institution was the one to collect and correct itself.

What would be the point of re-traumatizing and re-exploiting black people?

As a white person, what makes her think it’s ok to capitalize on these children’s pain without their permission?

via Instagram / @jenevieve_lyons

via Instagram / @jenevieve_lyons

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