Hi Queens & Kings!
We are nearing the end of May—if you can actually believe it?! There is still quite a bit we’d like to share, as we conclude our Mass Media and Sexual Assault Series (a topic we will continue to revisit).
Part of what we wish to continue to promote with our content is a hope for a more respectful and empowered world seen within our own communities. Here at Herstory, we acknowledge the power and influence mass media has on furthering this agenda. It is our goal to share content and experiences that will progressively move us in a more empowered world where RESPECT for one another is never out of fashion. To speak of her involvement in the fashion industry and its relation to rape culture is cofounder, Cristal Lowe.
From Cristal Lowe:
“I initially began writing for this week’s blog post on a different topic; but instead thought, maybe I should continue the conversation from my sister’s last entry, only this time, from a designer’s point of view.
I too had a unique experience working in the fashion industry as a designer and being a woman of God. I often internalized conversations with myself in regards to the woman’s position in fashion both as a creator and subject. I was always curious as to why more sales were made when women wore less, and questioned the motive behind an industry that is suppose to be selling fashion clothing, not just the bodies that wear them. I always wondered why some models resorted to taking jobs that would expose themselves in a light that GOD would not be well pleased. More importantly, I wondered why the world who consumes these advertisements settle for compromise for the sake of exposure? All in all, making the experiences of sexual violence and harassment in the “real world” more difficult to accept as being true. However, like my sister said, maybe the motive isn’t so much of empowerment as it is for the sole purposes of profit? Maybe we have exchanged what we so desperately want to mean “power” in today’s society for the sake of filling up our bank accounts?
As creatives of any industry, I hope we can offer more options for the meaning of success. I hope that creatives consider their art as an extension of influence and its implications on how we treat each other. It is a big feat, but together, I believe we can see a collective change.
This isn’t to imply nudity or artistic expressions of sexuality are wrong; but rape is; harassment and prejudices are...I’m merely suggesting we adopt a more critical eye of the intent behind our art especially when it comes to consumerism.
As a designer, I have a responsibility in what projects and visions I provide for my models. I set the standard for how I want my models to be portrayed because it’s an extension of my brand and my personal morals.
Having worked in this industry for ten plus years, I made up my mind on the nature of the interactions between myself and the models I worked with. I am very much aware of the type of misconduct that occurs in this industry. Therefore, I always offer the option for my models to bring a friend or parent to a casting, or a fitting. I recall the time our co-founder Devin Marie contacted me for auditioning for a fashion show I was producing. Still new to modeling, she asked if she could bring someone with her. Now I can only imagine what was going through her mind (meeting a perfect stranger in a big city) but I quickly replied, “Yes, of course, you can come bring someone to accompany you.” I felt a sound of relief, and we had conducted our casting where we both felt comfortable and respected.
At that time, I already endured the most painful experience of my life, being raped. It is because of my experience, I was most certainly relieved that someone would come with her, even though my intentions were strictly professional.
Involving myself in the fashion industry after my experience, made me even more aware to implications of sexual misconduct. I can recall at my previous job, a male ex-colleague involved in the model-fitting process. (Fit-modeling involves using the selected model as a garment-tester before mass manufacturing.) They give us feed back on any uncomfortable seams/or give us suggestions like "lower the armhole 1/2" and raise the neck a bit.”)
During the casting process this man would go out of his way to make the models wear these white intimates he provided, instead of the company’s standard black panties and bra when photographing them during the selection process. Now for some, many would say, “they’re just little white shorts, it’s part of the job to get undressed for proper measurements, no big deal,” but those little white shorts will expose parts of a woman’s body that the black shorts would not; and in instances like this, I’m always questioning people’s intent/motivation for doing certain things. Taking advantage of your position by using manipulation masked as standard protocol is an abuse of power! In today’s day and age, I have to call things like that into question. It is unfortunate to say, but as much as there are honest, and respectable people in the fashion industry,(like in any profession) there are also individuals who abuse their power.
I too agree, that models should get far more respect for what they do. No model should be expected to just undress or put on any kind of clothing they don’t feel comfortable wearing. No model should be made to feel fearful or intimidated when speaking up about their level of comfort in fear of being reprimanded or being seen as “difficult” to work with.
At the end of the day they are people, just like you and me, these are mothers, sisters, and aunties. We need to protect and support another human being’s right to say yes or no to something; especially in the work place. It should be okay to say "No, I will not fit that bodysuit without leggings underneath,” just as much as it’s a person’s right to say “yes”!
My personal message to all upcoming designers in this world:
“Trends fade...and there are options for us to make all creatives feel respected in their artistic environment. On my journey, I have learned, you don’t have to expose a woman’s body to make an impact with my designs. God gave you that talent, what God has for you—IS FOR YOU and no one can take your place because GOD has made you UNIQUELY talented to stand out not become another carbon-copy artist.” -Cristal Lowe
It is our hope that the industries we occupy consider us human beings first. We have a responsibility with the power and positions we have been given. It’s time to hold each other accountable; for the sake of art, and more importantly for humankind.
As an artist, creator, or consumer, how will you challenge the world around you despite trends or popularity? We sincerely hope you consider these things, until your next return! Stay tuned for a brand new series, we look forward to growing and healing with you!
With love & solidarity,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.