Brands invite social media influencers to press trips all the time, but a recent one hosted by the fashion brand Revolve that included popular blogger Aimee Song, set plus-size fashion blogger Valerie Eguavoen off.
While scrolling through her Instagram feed, Eguavoen saw a photo from Revolve’s most recent press junket, to Phuket, Thailand, and noticed that there wasn’t a single woman with a dark complexion. To top it off, the caption referenced lyrics from Jay-Z’s “99 problems.”
A post shared by REVOLVE (@revolve) on Jan 6, 2018 at 4:45am PST
Eguavoen, who has over 11,000 influencers herself, did not hold back her thoughts and shared them in her Insta stories, and later her bog, On a Curve.
“Hey @Revolve, while I absolutely love @songofstyle and some of the girls from your crew I have a question. Where is the diversity? You mean to tell me that the lifestyle/beauty/fashion influencers you include in your projects cannot have a certain amount of melanin?”
A post shared by Valerie Eguavoen (@onacurve) on Jan 8, 2018 at 3:28pm PST
Eguavoen told Yahoo Lifestyle that she felt Revolve wouldn’t address the issue, so she took it upon herself to call them out.
“I feel that it is my duty as a member of any society to disrupt any system that normalizes discrimination,” she says. “I want people to know that this is not just about Revolve, or other fashion brands, this is about a deep-rooted issue of systematic racism that our society has normalized, in many areas including fashion.”
“People, especially women of color, are denied adequate wages because of the color of their skin, denied equal access to public education, are victims of police brutality, all because of the color of their skin,” she adds.
Soon after she criticized Revolve, Song of Style blogger Aimee Song replied to Eguavoen and defended Revolve. “Out of all the fashion companies brands I’ve worked with, they’re probably one of the most diverse team of people…” she wrote. She told Eguavoen that this doesn’t justify their photo, but speculated that the reason why no women with dark complexions were featured in the photo was because there aren’t enough ‘known’ ones.
Eguavoen was having none of it. She responded to Song, explaining why that isn’t good enough. Then she tagged a long list of influencers of color.
“I was thoroughly disappointed with Aimee’s response, especially because she herself is a woman of color,” she explained. “Aside from her inability to acknowledge that there is an issue here, her comments about the possibility of there not being many ‘known’ influencers of color was so careless and inaccurate.”
Revolve tells Yahoo Lifestyle they are working on a response. A quick scroll of their feed shows that they did feature women of color, but only those with lighter complexions.
The On a Curve blogger said that she created the list to drive home the fact that influencers of color are out there, they’re just overlooked. After receiving a flood of positive responses to her posts, Eguavoen launched the “You Belong Now” campaign, to help make these women much more visible. Eguavoen wants to play an active role in pushing women of color to the forefront. And she isn’t afraid to confront brands to do it.
“I want these brand to know that as long as they continue to exclude black women from their campaigns, trips, collaborations, etc., we will continue to speak out about it,” she says. “It is important, not only because we should be included, but because challenging discrimination is the right thing to do.”
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