Pakistani designer Aamna Aqeel’s latest fashion spread is facing fierce criticism for depicting a dark-skinned slave boy catering to the needs of a well-dressed white woman.
Aqeel says the spread is meant to shed light on the issue of child labor.
But many are calling her argument facetious, and the spread itself insanely offensive; not just for the images themselves, but its use of slavery to market a product.
The International Herald Tribune’s Salima Feerasta felt the need to address the “vile images of racism and exploitation” and deemed the story “inexcusable.” We couldn’t agree more.
Feerasta spoke to Aqueel, who denied any intention of racism in the story. In fact, the designer’s aim was to shed light on the issue of child labor. Aqueel said that the dark-skinned Baloch child was incidental. “He works in a garage and wanted some work.” As Feerasta so pointedly explains, Aqueel’s reasoning doesn’t add up and her message fails for many reasons.
It’s facetious of the designer to claim that she was trying to stimulate a debate on child labour. The model wearing her clothes is clearly comfortable with her dominant position. She is not made up in a way that shows her to be the villain of the piece. The use of a dark skinned child in a shoot entitled “Be My Slave” certainly reeks of racism, however much the designer may deny it. And if anything, the shoot seems to condone child labour.
Check out a few more of these images below:
Thoughts on yet another racially-charged incident within the fashion industry?
Is there any justification for the use of this imagery?
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