This white fashion designer thought it was appropriate to use images of starving African children
By Erin White
May 10, 2018
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?