Justice

Here's Why People Are Angry About the Models on this Clothing Website

August 2nd 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

The online marketplace Zazzle is taking heat on Twitter for advertising tee-shirts with empowering statements for black people ... with white models. 

Shirts on the Zazzle site.

Shirts with messages like "melanin and mascara," "black girl magic," and "bougie black girl" were modeled by white men and women. 

A shirt on the website Zazzle.

Twitter users pointed out the strange promotion of black culture. 

How did this happen?

As one Twitter user pointed out, the reason this happened is that Zazzle's website automatically overlays designs onto tee-shirts worn by a random assortment of models. 

This led other users to ask why so many of the models used by Zazzle were white. 

Under a "Black Girl Magic" search of apparel, there does appear to be at least one black woman modeling the apparel. 

Zazzle "Black Girl Magic" search.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, Zazzle explained what happened and said they're working to fix it. 

"In the case of ‘Black Girl Magic’ T-shirts on the Zazzle website, each designer is shown a series of pre-posed randomized model shots upon which their design is placed," the company wrote. "It’s always possible that gender, race and other attributes of the model do not match up to the specifics of the design, given the ratio of our millions of designs to the 100 or so T-shirt styles we offer." 

They added that diversity is important to the company.  

"We’re working on an interim fix that doesn’t mismatch out-of-context content to models," said the statement to the Huffington Post. "At Zazzle, we’re committed to diversity and are working on increasing the diversity of the pre-posed model shots within the T-shirt range itself."

ATTN: reached out to Zazzle to learn more about the racial demographics of the models they use on the site, but we had not heard back by the time of publication. 

The models hired in the fashion industry are usually white. 

A 2017 report by The Fashion Spot found that 75.5 percent of models featured in spring ads where white, which is actually an improvement from 2016 during which 78 percent of models featured in spring ads where white, and in 2015 when it was 84 percent white. The publication called the results a "feeble push" toward racial diversity. The Fashion Spot report credited popular brands, rather than high-fashion designers, for leading the way for increasing diversity in their campaigns.  Zara, Gap Express, Urban Outfitters, Hanes, and Champion all scored high marks for their diversity in their ads. 

"Unsurprisingly, the list of diversity-embracing campaigns is chock-full of popular retailers that, in this climate, can’t afford to ignore their increasingly diverse customer base," The Fashion Spot wrote in its report.  

RELATED: Model Confronts the Lack of Diversity in Fashion Ads in the Best Way