Zazzle.com is an online marketplace that allows designers to customize their own merchandise. From art and clothing to electronics and home decor, the site hosts an endless number of products made accessible through the large e-commerce platform. But when it comes to the freedom given to participating designers, it’s become apparent that some form of monitoring is necessary.
In a tweet posted by Jackie Aina on Tuesday morning, she made a case against the computerized and customizable system that utilizes the brand’s few stock models for a range of messaged apparel.
The tweet features screenshots of two white models wearing “Black Girl Magic” shirts. But they’re not even the worst examples of the racially controversial advertising on the site.
Doing a search of “Black Girl Magic” within the clothing and apparel section of the site brings up five pages of results, featuring shirts that embrace the beauty of black women and include symbolism of the Black Lives Matter movement. But the lack of representation of people of color is causing confusion and outrage.
Although Aina didn’t name the website selling the merchandise herself, people in the replies were quick to pick up on it. Especially because Zazzle is one of several clothing websites that re-uses the same images to advertise designs that creators apply to the generic apparel.
In a statement to Yahoo Style, Zazzle wrote, “Each designer is shown a series of pre-posed randomized model shots upon which their design is placed. It’s always possible that gender, race and other attributes of the model do not match up to the specifics of the design, given the ratio of our millions of designs to the 100 or so t-shirt styles we offer. At Zazzle, we’re committed to diversity and are working on increasing the diversity of the pre-posed model shots and the t-shirt range itself.”
The details at the bottom of each product differentiates which aspects of the tee were designed by the company, rather than by the designers who placed an illustration on top. The coincidence of imagery that celebrates black people being placed on nonblack models isn’t necessarily the intent of the website, but the responsibility remains in the hands of Zazzle to include more diverse models on the site in order to avoid these instances.
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