We are the architects of our own suffering. A writer for Cosmopolitan is claiming that Victoria’s Secret has engaged in “racist” cultural appropriation because the company recently featured Asian-inspired lingerie in its fashion show.
The post’s title states the matter plainly: “Why Can’t Victoria’s Secret Stop Designing Racist Lingerie?” asks Helin Jung. (The answer is obvious: because it’s not doing so in first place.)
In the esteemed view of a progressive women’s magazine, it’s racist to let a Nepalese woman design South Asian-inspired jewelry for Victoria’s Secret models to wear on the runaway.
“Don’t let yourself be hoodwinked by Victoria’s Secret’s brazen attempt to re-label what is clearly cultural appropriation by turning it into a celebration of ‘culture,’” writes Jung. “The brand and its creative leads shamelessly cherry-picked imagery, breaking apart aesthetic references from wherever they wanted and stitching them back together again. They’re telling us it’s worldliness. It’s not, it’s a hack job.”
If this is racism—if racism means, essentially, recognizing and incorporating the inherent beauty of other cultures—what word would Cosmopolitan use to describe Victoria’s Secret if the company only featured designs that were 100 percent Eurocentric? Reasonable people might conclude that Cosmo is getting things exactly backward: Victoria’s Secret has engaged in racial inclusivity, rather than racism.
Meanwhile, HGTV is facing criticism from BuzzFeed because the stars of one of its biggest shows—Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper—are members of an anti-gay church. The article did not say whether the Gaines are anti-gay themselves, or whether Fixer Upper actually discriminates against gays (it has never featured a gay couple, although other HGTV shows do so routinely), because its author simply doesn’t know. The views of the Gaines’ pastor are, remarkably, the only evidence.
People have every right to boycott television personalities for being anti-gay, though we might expect the journalism outlets accusing them of such to actually confirm it first.
Occasionally, there are reasons to be grateful that President Donald Trump’s apocalypse is only 50 days away. No doubt the smug sanctimony of media figures who casually labelled everyone a racist, sexist bigot—sometimes for good reason, other times not so much—had something to do with Trump’s election in the first place.