As a black women, I’m use to buying products that only I as a black women use, from a person of a different race. The obvious one being products for my hair.
It isn’t unusual for me to buy my hair grease or relaxer from a Asian or Korean man. But I do try and buy black owned products wherever possible.
But I will be damned if I’m gonna buy a t-shirt with the caption: ‘Black is gorgeous’ modeled by a white woman!
But this is exactly what Zazzle has done. The company has come under fire for the lack of diversity in the models it has cast for its website.
Social media users pointed out last week that T-shirts on the site have some very race-specific quotes and phrases. But they were being modeled exclusively by white women.
Understandably, the company are being dragged for seemingly having no black models on hand to wear shirts with sayings such as: ‘Black Girl Magic, ‘melanin & mascara’, and ‘unapologetically black’.
Zazzle sells a wide range of customizable products, including shirts, accessories, stationary, phone cases, and home decor.
Consumers can personalize their own products or buy pre-made items from several independent sellers.
The designs are all printed on a limited range of styles, so a simple basic T-shirt shape may be offered with countless designs.
So in Zazzle’s defense (and it’s a small defense because you have to be accountable for what’s on your website) they simply shoot a single model in one of these templates.
For example a model may wear a crew-neck white T-shirt or a white long-sleeve tee — and then the seller digitally updates them with specific slogans.
This means that even a shirt that is about black female empowerment is modeled by a white woman, since most of the models the site uses are white.
Shirts available on Zazzle that are modeled by white women say things like ‘Angry Black Woman’, ‘Black is Gorgeous’, and ‘Danger: Educated Black Woman’.
Another one that says ‘Black Queens are Born in March’ and another that reads ‘Melanin & Coconut oil & Hips & Magic’.
Bantu knots is a style that originated within southern Africa. Yet one white model on the site wears a tee stating: ‘Bantu knots and baby hair designs.’
There is even a particularly awkward shirt featuring a quote from US Representative Maxine Waters, which reads: ‘I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated, and I’m not going anywhere.’
Embarrassingly, there are also several shirts with statements about being a black man that are modeled by a white man.
The cringe-worthy mistake was noticed last week by several Twitter users who criticized Zazzle for not having enough diversity to find black women for shirts like these.
‘What, no Black models?’ asked @Shikimag.
‘White models + generic pro-black women slogans @zazzle = the most awkward mess on EARTH,’ wrote Yousra Elbagir. ‘Hoping that someone got fired for this BS.’
Zazzle has yet to respond to the controversy or correct the issue on its product pages.