Our society has a weird habit of limiting who can and cannot voice their opinions on issues that we all face. Meaning it’s okay for a politician to speak about police brutality or other racial issues while musicians or actors, etc. are sometimes viewed in a negative light if they do.There’s a cone of silence that exists around certain people or groups that allows them to ignore “sticky” issues that should matter to everyone,but may be awkward to talk about. Which is ridiculous because as American citizens, any issues that some Americans face should be issues that we are all allowed to address,right?
The words fashion and social justice are in no way synonymous. In fact, the fashion industry is often criticized for its lack of diversity so when heavy hitters within the community speak out about racial issues it’s surprising and extremely important.Naomi Campbell being one example who always openly discusses the race issues that she has faced and obsevered within the industry.
Recently, Elle,which publishes alot of articles about race and societal issues, did a five-part profile on Flint,Michigan and the continued struggle with their water. “Flint is Family” takes an in depth look at how three generations of flint women have been affected by the catastrophe.
It’s eye-opening and incredibly informative. The article not only sheds light on an important issue that all Americans(including non-black ones) should care about it also provides a common ground for people who love fashion but are also passionate about social justice and racial issues. Commonality between the two is rare so when it arises, it is welcomed and appreciated.
Teen Vogue is another magazine that is taking more strides towards inclusivity. After Elaine Welteroth was named the editor-in-chief this may,it was a huge step in the right direction for the overwhelmingly white industry.
Welteroth (and her team) has been very vocal about her stance on issues like police brutality and the black lives matter movement. And it’s refreshing to see her do so because for a while it seemed as if black people in the public eye shied away from or refused to acknowledge issues like this. The past few years in particular have been amazing though because we have seen that perhaps that isn’t true. Or maybe it’s never been true and I’ve just only started realizing it.
Maybe it’s just a result of the changes in society. A new generation of entertainers and professionals are slowly trickling into the system and unlike those before us, we are (for the most part) unafraid to address issues like race. Generations ago, fashion magazines wouldn’t include articles featuring the plights of people of color, because it just wasn’t a thing that everyone wanted to hear about. Of course there are people who would still choose to ignore all the race issues that persist today(I’m looking at you Clint Eastwood, actually just that whole generation) which makes it more important to continue speaking out about them.
As American citizens, no as citizens of the world, we all have a responsibility to care about and want to speak on problems that the marginalized are forced to deal with. There are no “lanes” to remain in. If you care about Syrian refugees, then express that. If you are passionate about the struggle for women’s rights in third world countries then say it. A part of our problem is the fear of backlash on our unpopular opinions. So when a fashion magazine chooses to ignore the cone of silence and address racial issues, it’s both enlightening and indicative of our future.