Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Over the past 2 years, the sewing community has brought to the forefront that (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) “BIPOC” are NOT represented or selected as ambassadors for many big brands that we continuously support. In general, the lack of diversity in these organizations are evident in their marketing campaigns as certain body types, sizes, ages, gender and color are not included or catered to. I honestly just noticed about 2 years ago seeing black models on patterns covers when McCalls and Simplicity started to feature one or two in each release but the way they were styled at times made my skin crawl.
When I saw the new release of the SUMMER 2020 Simplicity patterns and saw a black young model featured, I was livid by the styling and colors used for their SUMMER pattern. How did this go to production? Was this really approved and no one was vocal enough to say something? I wanted to see if it was me so I shared the skirt pattern with 5 persons, 3 in the SEWING community and 2 who are NOT SEWIST. Everyone was shocked and all agreed it looked like a slave maid. Clearly, there is LACK of diversity at all LEVELS from start to finish!
I felt a wee better when Juliet shared in her stories that the pattern was removed from their website and kept my fingers crossed that it was taken from the store shelves to be repackaged. I was SKEPTICAL but wanted to give Simplicity the benefit of the doubt as I had plans to purchase Mimi G’s new jumpsuit pattern which was on sale that weekend. Not surprised, the pattern was in the drawer and then a few days later, it migrated to the top of the display shelf. I contemplated purchasing the pattern and was hesitant at first as I was so pissed off based on the styling. I decided to reach out to Abigail to check her local Joann to see if the pattern was in her store or if it was just an oversight by management at mine. She confirmed that her store had it on display. The next day, I saw the pattern in someone’s story and decided to go purchase it and use it as a TEACHABLE moment and to educate my students about “covert or hidden racism” and how blacks may be portrayed by brands just like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. SO happy to learn that they are FINALLY retiring the labels on these brands! READ MORE ABOUT IT HERE. “Hidden racism” exists even if you may not notice. Food for thought! Have you ever noticed certain hair care product lines are labeled ethnic in some stores or not mixed in with the other bigger brands?
STYLING AND HOW BLACKS ARE PORTRAYED MATTERS even with the little pittance of diversity and inclusion! This harmful stereotype of a beautiful, young black model styled like a slave maid with subtle make-up, blah styling in summer clearly reinforced a negative imagery based on this cover.
Mind you, I would have NOT purchased this pattern for me but would have used it to teach a beginner sewing student to make a SIMPLE elastic waist circle skirt. Wonder why Abigail and I made it? WE WANT TO SHARE THAT STYLING MAKES A DIFFERENCE!! We wanted to share our thoughts and love for Ankara fabric and how much it reminds us about SUMMER! READ HER POST HERE!!
NO WAY in 2020 SHOULD A BLACK MODEL be styled for a MAJOR PATTERN COMPANY distributed in MAJOR CRAFTING STORES for a summer pattern release looking like this. Even if she wore a khaki skirt or used neutral color, the COVER is CLEARLY “hideous” on all levels! Obviously there is a lack of DIVERSITY OR CULTURAL AWARENESS and imagine NO one saw a problem or even spoke up!
I am watching and waiting to see if these companies are genuinely supporting the cause and plan to make a difference or are they capitalizing on “Black Lives Matter” and then back to business as usual. Will companies truly offer more opportunities to BLACKS? Will they pay BLACKS for what they are worth? Will they stand up for what is RIGHT no matter if they have to lose customers? Will they create actionable plans in the fight for equality? Will they educate themselves through diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness training?
Honestly, I am not 100% convinced but will set my calendar to check back 3, 6 , 9 months, 1 year, 2 years from now to see if changes are made. Will you be checking in and holding them accountable? There is a LOT of work needed from all walks and only time will tell. What are your thoughts?
On a positive note, I am loving this vibrant summer skirt to twirl my way into summer!
Thank you so much for READING!! One Love,