When #BlackLivesMatter started trending worldwide part of the outcry was the lack of support and equal opportunities for Black creators and Black owned businesses, and for good reason. It made me realize that although I wasn’t intentionally unsupportive of Black owned businesses, I was simply following the trends. If I would see a garment or product I liked I would question wether the product aligned with my shopping practices or not, and if it did I would make a purchase. I never once questioned if the item was created by a Black designer, a Black business or was being advertised by a Black creator. In my mind I have always supported Black creators, but I realized that I wasn’t really putting my money where my mouth is.
However, here is where some confusion and unrest arose. I went to Target for the first time in nearly 3 months about a month ago. I needed to get a few toiletry items that had officially run out and I figured doing something that used to be ‘normal’ would be nice for a change. I happened to go on the day when the new Target X (designer) collections launched and I couldn't help but browse the collections. There were 3 different designers featured and there were photos of each designer above the racks of their collections. I was immediately drawn to the beachy, cotton/linen based items by Lisa Marie Fernandez and grabbed a polka dot dress. It was short sleeved, a cotton and linen blend, and it was white based covered in black polka dots with a tie waist belt. It literally checked all the boxes of my self imposed style and shopping guidelines. I loved it! Then, I realized that the Target x Cushnie collection was a black designer and I thought that this could be a way to show support for a Black designer in a small way. I made my way over to the rack of clothing and started feeling the garments, looking at them off the rack and checking the tags for material composition. Not only did the styles not necessarily speak to me, but the majority - if not all - were polyester based. As a rule, I have sworn off 100% polyester garments simply because of the negative effects polyester has on the planet, and because it is one of my least favorite materials to wear. It’s sweat inducing to begin with and I live in a relatively warm climate here in San Diego, so it’s just uncomfortable to wear most of the time. Suddenly I felt ashamed. Here was my chance to step up to the plate and show my support, but I truly didn’t like the style or materials of the garments. I was experiencing an honest personal dilemma. Do I support the Black designed collection or do I stick to my personal guidelines? I went ahead and passed on the Target x Cushnie pieces, but I did end up purchasing the polka dot dress.
Another instance where I questioned my intentions and personal habits was on social media. YouTube is my favorite place to consume content. Video content is what I not only love to create, but I love to watch. Most people who know me probably know that I don’t watch tv. We have had Netflix and other streaming services over the past 3 or 4 years, but actual cable tv has been a no-go. Honestly, I spend most of my time on YouTube, consuming content from people I chose to follow. To me, watching tv and having to sit through the commercials is like torture. When the trend of sharing Instagram handles and shouting out amazing Black creators on Instagram started I realized that I really didn’t follow as many Black creators as I thought, nor was I aware or even paying attention to the fact that some of them have created and run incredible businesses.
I feverishly started following all these Black fashion, lifestyle and beauty accounts on Instagram and YouTube, and really made it my mission to be more intentional with my support of the amazing new women and accounts I had followed. After following new YouTubers and new Instagram accounts I started to notice one thing. A lot of the new people I followed are hyper consumers and represent that in their content. Though I am not a minimalist and I am not some savior of the earth, but over the past few years I have really started digging into the disgusting side of the fast fashion industry (see here + here) as well as trying to reduce my consumption of ‘things.’ There are so many conveniences modern technology has given us that make consuming so easy, and it seems that many people don’t understand or care how items end up on your doorstep, or where it even comes from in the first place, and that bothers me. It’s all about the ‘look’ and flaunting it on Instagram for attention and likes, not about who made this, how was it made and where did the materials come from. Last year I went thru my social media accounts and unfollowed people who constantly did clothing hauls, beauty hauls and created or promoted any other mass consumption supporting content, and then looked at what I actually enjoy to watch. I realized that my interests had transitioned from consumerism and buy-buy-buy to just fashion. I don’t care if items are new or old. I don’t care if they are high end or homemade. What I really love is fashion and styling, and after realizing that about myself I noticed that those ideals have always been the basis of my interest in most people’s content. I got wrapped up in the consistent consumption of new, but what I really enjoyed was the styling aspect all along.
I am still in this transition period of trying to figure out who to follow in order to show my support for Black creators and the Black community, but I am also constantly on the hunt for Black creators who better align with my lifestyle choices. I am somewhere between consumerist and minimalist, and I really just love watching people who are on the same path.
I feel like I can’t be the only person who feels this way, but I think the most important part is that I am thinking about it. Being more aware of my shortcomings in my support of the Black community, and being intentionally supportive is much more important than just being a consumer for the sake of it. Going forward I am making it my mission to support Black businesses and share content by Black creators by becoming more aware of my purchasing practices and following habits. I am not perfect. I am not right. This is just where I am starting because nothing will ever change unless it is actively worked on.
I ask you two things:
If you know any creators - mid twenties and above - who are all about fashion and lifestyle, whose content aligns with my interests, please let me know. I’m looking for new/more accounts to follow!
What have you done over the past few months that has made you question your support, or lack of support, for the Black community and Black creatives? Part of me just wants to know if you feel the same or maybe completely different, and why.
I have been trying to put these feelings into words for a while now and I finally got them out on paper… or in text at least... here on the blog. Thank you for reading!