Dear Marc Jacobs,
I am huge fan of your work. I am a black woman. I am a lover of art and fashion.
The situation that you are currently in with the criticism to your brand for your use of dreadlocks on white women in your recent show is unfortunate. What is also unfortunate is the point that is being missed. Part of your response to this criticism on Instagram was.
“funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.”
Here lies an issue.
As a woman of color, I was raised in a society that did not except our naturally thick, coily and kinky hair. This has been so ingrained into the black community especially, that it is not uncommon for parents, grand parents, etc. to encourage straightening hair in order to get a job or get into a good school, find a husband – basically, straighten your hair to be accepted. Straighten your hair to be taken seriously. Straighten your hair to be pretty. Straightening our hair was not a way of borrowing or stealing from another culture, it was a way to get by in a world that wasn’t ready to accept black women as they are – with naturally thick, coily and kiny hair.
Within the last 10 years or so, there has been a natural hair revolution. More and more women of color are embracing their natural hair. We are realizing that they shouldn’t be apologetic for the hair that naturally comes out of their head. Unfortunately, this is a battle that is still being fought, here in America and around the globe. Dreadlocks have often been met with criticism. As a style that is mostly worn by people of color in America, that criticism has been felt – being told that the hair in untidy or unkept or doesn’t meet standards.
Here lies THE issue.
Me personally; my issue isn’t with your models were wearing dreadlocks. My issue isn’t with the fact that mostly white models were wearing dreadlocks. My issue is that for so long when black people and people of color wear this style, they are told it’s not clean or not appropriate. It’s not professional, the list goes on. When it’s used for fashion on a white model, it’s creative and inspiring. THAT is the issue. It feels as though beauty and fashion trends aren’t acceptable until a white woman has worn it. That is a tough and sad feeling and unfortunately, that is what cultural appropriation feels like to some. We tend to be criticized for our looks until someone lighter or fairer adopts them and that hurts.
Strides have been made, but there is still a lack of understanding at times. I hope that this note that you may not read, creates a positive understanding.
I am still a fan. Thank you for what you’ve done for the fashion industry. Hopefully this issue creates more dialogue and understanding than negativity.
xoxo. Darin Michelle