Do you expect your Ezibuy catalogue models to include a fat old Maori woman?

Nothing is easy anymore.   Even selling clothes is a business full of pitfalls

The absence in EziBuy of pictures of Maori, Asian, Pacific, Middle Eastern women of all ethnicities and nations, and other women who make up the diversity of New Zealand life, meant that women different from a ‘white’ homogenous ‘standard’ were made subject to ‘symbolic annihilation’. They were made invisible, denormalised, diminished. And given the role the media of all types plays in shaping views of ourselves and the world, EziBuy failed to reflect, speak to, or even acknowledge the beautiful diversity of New Zealand women. That every woman in the catalogue met a rare and unrealistic standard of ‘perfect’ teeth, hair and height, was a bad enough signal to real women everywhere, but the absence of real, diverse New Zealand women, said only white women (of certain Aryan characteristics) are and can be, beautiful and suitable for wearing EziBuy clothes.

It was pointed out that EziBuy is an Australian owned company, as if that explains the homogenous white women filling their pages. It certainly doesn’t excuse it. But given New Zealand and Australia are richly ethnically diverse and are both target audiences for the magazine and the company’s clothes, it would be wholly appropriate to include images that represent the real women of those countries. In fact, EziBuy started as a New Zealand company, before it was bought by Coles and then Woolworths, so it has had quite an opportunity to reflect the make-up of its country of origin. Their head office is in Parnell.

There were no pictures of models with t-shirts saying ‘I’m racist on the inside’ in the EziBuy magazine, to adopt an angle from the Human Rights Commission’s ‘Give nothing to racism’ campaign fronted by Taika Waititi. And even when we think we’re (one) colour blind, we’re seeing the world from a particular lens. The concerning thing about the EziBuy catalogue was that it presented a (series of) false realities as if they were ideals. Though there was no ‘I’m racist on the inside’ label on the cover, its pictures spoke a thousand words, if only you read between the lines.

Although the writer has a point, the other extreme is that the “XYZ publication doesn’t represent all of us” argument is nothing more than something to be noted.  To force change in this area would mean nods to all kinds of people.

We would need gay and lesbian models.  Models with amputated limbs in various places and combinations.  Deaf and blind models.  Perhaps even models in vegetative states.

And that’s before you start varying for height, weight and relative attractiveness.  Short hair, long hair, blond hair, no hair.  People with terminal illnesses.  People with mental illnesses.

Do we all need to see ourselves?   Is not seeing ourselves racist?

Have you ever watched the movie “Boy” and felt it didn’t have enough blonde Asian lesbians in it?

Ezibuy is a smart commercial organisation.  If they suspected there was more money to be made from showing fat women with dark hair and blotchy brown skin, then they’d do it.

But they have no responsibility to cater for or balance against the needs of progressive social justice bullies.  Buy, don’t buy.  That’s all.

 

–  Christine Rose, The Daily Blog

 


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