Sooooo… are we FINALLY going to stop shopping at H&M or nah?
Over the weekend, fast fashion super giant H&M fucked right up. Famous for $30 skirts, bored looking blonde models and stores crammed with mid-riff baring, Uggs-rocking teens, they’re grabbing headlines today for putting an adorable little black boy in a sweatshirt that labels him a ‘cool monkey’.
No wait… lest I be accused of inaccuracy…
The ‘coolest monkey’.
Not a cool lion, or jaguar, or even meerkat. A damn monkey.
Of course, what followed swiftly was public demand for the photo to be taken down and then H&M's non-apology, "Sorry if you were offended". That's the apology equivalent of lightly toasted bread. Like what is the point? Either make it all the way crunchy or leave it the eff alone. They walked away and we are standing here with a collective bulging forehead vein and clenched jaw, our throats raw with the cry to ‘BOYCOTT’.
To that call to arms I say, 'FINA-FUCKING-LLY.'
H&M have been showing us who they are FOREVER. Putting this beautiful boy in a ‘monkey’ sweatshirt is on the heels of their implication that white models were used in store posters because they convey a ‘positive image’.
For me, I have been less horrified by their racist marketing than by their status as an egregious human rights abuser through a systematic lack of commitment to safe manufacturing environments and payment of fair wages. How you think that skirt costs $30 bruv?
And then, last year during the week that has been designated to commemorate and reflect on the 2013 collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh, which killed over 1100 people, H&M decided to run their own huge campaign about second hand clothes. They were heavily criticized for this move, seen as a shitty attempt to take attention away from their own poor record. (Seriously … who the hell is in their marketing department?!)
So yeah * Kanye voice * H&M doesn’t care about [black people/poor people/people of color etc and so forth].
I hope our outrage continues beyond the next big sale.
And that, as descendants of slaves, we soon become the most vocal and aware consumers about manufacturers' modern-day exploitation of workers. Of course I know that people from all walks of life buy slave-produced products, and that often, it isn’t simple for us to make more conscious decisions because most brands work hard to hide their fuckery. That said, I truly feel that we should be the MOST #woke, as we are so keenly aware of and living with the long-lasting traumas of slavery.
Because while we are rightly angry that H&M would emblazon the word 'monkey' across the chest of this small boy, we should be beyond horrified that, for everything from cotton to chocolate to cell phones, they and their corporate peers believe that tiny bodies are expendable.
And, by our purchases, apparently so do we.