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BZZT: torrid for the fail
ariellabella wrote in fatshionista
oh y'all, really? "native beauty"? so inappropriate, so dumb. "stevie nicks style" would have been just as appropriate, if not more so.

ugh racist bullshit appropriative fashion. do we start writing letters? what is the right approach to this? i feel very disingenuous saying that now i'm going to boycott because i do not know where else to buy my pants that is not also socially reprehensible. that said, this is so inappropriate and offensive. letters? a selected boycott of everything in that collection?


EDITED TO ADD: what i think i am most curious about is how we can start to hold our retailers really accountable given that for many people boycotting is not a really viable option. we write letters but how many people here have already written to torrid 100 times. are there other ways we, as consumers, and as consumers with considerable clout, can start to take torrid to task? what are some creative strategies that might work? how do we make our demands known and hold retailers to higher standards? i don't like the idea that it is boycott or nothing -- especially given how hard it is to find anything at all.

EDITED 2: "oh dudes" is inappropriate; "oh y'all" is not. thanks sheana!

Um what? Most of the fashions on there are generic and aren't representative of any race - except for the shoes with fringe that are a nod to Native American moccasins.

The word "native" doesn't only refer to locality or race - by definition it means "belonging to one by birth" ... which can be anything.

Sorry, I can't say that I agree with you on the racism here.

I disagree. I think given the way this is presented and the way in which it connects to Native American archetypes it is REALLY CLEAR that this is alluding to not "native" as in "where someone is from" but "native" as in "Native American."

I mean: feathers, "Aztec" prints, fringe? I fail to see how this is NOT alluding to NA stereotypes. The email that accompanied this made it even clearer: http://community.torrid.com/email/030509_nativebeauty_web.html?roi=echo4-5006916947-4252611-f45cc0ca6076a48c869895266b1b49d0&cm_mmc_o=PkAw+ZByEwf*4zygt*WzfbMw+PwzAfY*8w_+ewylbBE

will work I think. With that, it is pretty crystal clear.

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I don't really see the problem to be honest. Most of the styles are similar to clothes which have been available for decades. Native isn't really a derogatory word, at least not in my vocab.

Could've seen a reason for outrage had the line been called something else such as Hoochie Mama fashions, Mamie fashions, Squaw beauty, Redskin beauty, etc.

As it stands, I don't see it as offensive.

this is a valid point, i guess -- i mean, it isn't derogatory. it's just the kind of racism that is about reinscribing stereotypes and inaccurate versions of a culture in the interest of selling clothes.

how much does this actually have to do with aztec culture, and how much does it have to do with perverting that to sell clothes? that's a kind of racism too, the idea you can take a POC-dominant culture and use it inaccurately to sell something that plays into the stereotype, not the actual culture.

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dude right just call that shit, like "stevie nicks" or "hippie ridiculousity without broomstick skirts" and we're fine!

Doesn't Torrid do this every...oh six months? Then there's a letter writing campain, so they take it down, or edit it. Then six months later, something new.

they do, and then it's everyone hates torrid. and people still shop there
and it goes again.

Ugh, as soon as I got the email this morning I cringed. It's a new emerging "style" gah.

They've done something similar before (I think it was the teepee shirt comment?) a few months back, it appeared gangloads of members were incredibly SO out-raged they would never shop at the store again, write letters etc.

What I'm getting at is- something like this comes up, there is a weeks worth (or less) of Torrid-Hate and then the next approved OOTD will be a torrid skirt, dress, pants from torrid, boots from torrid, etc.

What I'm getting at is- something like this comes up, there is a weeks worth (or less) of Torrid-Hate and then the next approved OOTD will be a torrid skirt, dress, pants from torrid, boots from torrid, etc.

fatshionista does not have a hive mind. SOme members can loathe Torrid's policies and boycott them. Others can spend tons of money there. Just like some fatshionistas are boycotting Old Navy for sending plus size to online only, while others are fine with it.

it seems to me that they are going for a broader (but no less fucked up!) native/first nations pan-north-american cultural co-optation. the "travel to another time and place" part grosses me out too because HELLO erasure of native and first nations people who were *not* killed off (despite attempts at genocide).
i mean, i think emails (and i certainly won't buy anything in that collection, which i will say in my email, despite my interest in some of the items--extra dark skinny jeans? YES PLEASE! i don't actually get the connection with the theme. also the gold coil ring is cute.) are the way to go, because they have, iirc, been at least a little responsive to those along similar lines in the past.
i think torrid really doesn't run their marketing schemes through enough people. NOT AN EXCUSE FOR THEM. but for reals.

Yeah, this didn't really scream Native American (Navajo, Cherokee, etc), so much as Central and South American "peasant" groups. Colour, cut, etc, I guess, with a healthy dose of Indian influence on the side.

However, the individual product descriptions seem a lot worse.

I think you can look at the use of "native" in this context as a parallel to the use of "ethnic" or "tribal" or "urban" in similar contexts. There are a couple of good posts on why those words are problematic in this context here - http://contexts.org/socimages/2008/06/09/ethnic-fashion/ - and here - http://contexts.org/socimages/2008/06/14/more-ethnic-fashion/,

Torid is using "native" to mean "non-white" or "exotic" with no thought to what "native" might mean to First Americans or any other indigenous people. The fact that these fashions are generic, unrepresentative of any race, and similar to clothes that have been available for decades is exactly the problem and what makes the use of the term "native" objectionable.

First Nations, I think I meant, not First Americans. I'm sorry. Also a lot of people posted better links and explanations than I did while I was writing this!

This seems to be a trend this season. Evans has a similar line.

They are just going along with the current trend. They have the same kind of clothes on Evans right now. Personally it makes me laugh because it's the kind of tees that are sold in gift shops at national parks in The US. I remember bringing a few of those back like 10 years ago and everyone thought they were so uncool. lol Should have kept them!

S'pose I can share my thoughts.

There's racism, and then there's insensitivity. Granted that we can't use ignorance as an excuse, but I really don't think it's meant to be taken as a slight to The People. The general public will see it and think of romance novels and western movies. It's as much a bastardization of American history as it is Aboriginal history. No one ever dressed like that in the 19th century. It's a fantasy, plain and simple.

There's a ton of this stuff in 'regular size' stores right now. Torrid is following a fashion trend because that's what they do. It'll all be gone in two months when The Next Big Thing comes along.

I like some of the dresses, meself. Those silly headbands have got to go, tho.


Re: S'pose I can share my thoughts.

But where do you draw the line between racism and insensitivity? I don't think it was an intentional slight either, but it's no excuse to say "Well, everyone else is doing it!" or "It hurts white people just as much as it does Native Americans!"

It's not a fantasy. It's an exotification of real people's cultures. It might have been fantasy if they hadn't named it Native Beauty, thereby purposely linking it to Native cultures, like Aztec and Native American.

And because he is possibly my favorite author, I link to Sherman Alexie's short essay on why he hates Tonto. It's relevant, I just can't remember why when I'm awake three hours earlier than usual!

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Please know my tongue is firmly in cheek

But wait, Bohemians are a specific racial group, too. If there can be no cultural forgiveness for "native" appropriation, there can't be any for "bohemian" appropriation. Or least there can't if we're being consistent. That's the danger of this sort of thing - when do you draw the line and just be happy that we aren't all still being forced into polyester pants and muumuu smock shirts?

I can't even imagine how it must feel to be Native American and to see that collection. My-entire-culture-bottled-up-for-consumption-and-continued-misinterpretation-as-marketed-by-Torrid. The fashion community has long made it a habit of culturally appropriating what is "cool" about "foreign, exotic" peoples (hello, keffiyah, bindi, Che shirts); guess Native Americans are the next "it" culture?

(Also, LOL@cheetah ring. Wrong continent, you idiots. Not that "Aztec shirt" is any better.)

I can't imagine that members of American Indian nations would be particularly surprised by this. We're talking about the United States, here, a place where blackface was common practice at major universities until the 1960s and there are still constant court battles over the ownership of tribal lands. If someone got sent over the edge by some mass-produced crap fashion, I'd only have to assume they hadn't been paying attention for the past 500 or so years.

Unfortunately, this is a situation in which a boycott would hurt you more than it would hurt the company, because of these reasons:

- not enough people would participate for it to have an impact
- they wouldn't know why you were doing it
- you (and other participants) wouldn't, as you say, have anywhere to get pants

When a business that I have had a pretty good relationship with does something that smacks of racism/privilege, I tend to take the same approach that I would do with a friend: I tell them outright that what they have said/done is offensive to me, and I explain why.

Unfortunately, things like the exoticization of First Nations culture and the use of played-out stereotypes to represent "native" (as though all First Nations peoples have the same beliefs, symbols, etc) are so generally accepted that there are lots of people out there who just don't get why this shit is wrong.

However, as we know, this is not the first time that our mutual friend Torrid has pulled this kind of stunt. So I think it's okay in your letter/e-mail to reference the last time this happened, and to say that you hope this isn't going to become a pattern, because you really do want to continue being friends. Tell them you would appreciate a response, and then see what they say and go from there.

I'm not saying it is our job to educate the Torrid marketing team about racism. However, the sad reality is that if we want them to knock this shit off, we have to tell them, and enough of us have to tell them to make them understand that this matters.

I would throw in some of the links sparkymonster lists above. I don't know if anyone will read them, but it's worth a shot.

Oh, Torrid. How are high-waisted denim shorts representative of "Naturally Beautiful" Indian princesses? Your copywriters are reaching again.

High-waisted shorts are neither beautiful, nor natural. Discuss.