Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beyond Skin Deep

Addendum: This post is in reaction to the comments.

It's disheartening to read something like this that is so ignorant. 

I'm personally not exposed to black fashion, and I really regret that I wasn't able to attend the show because I would love to see and be educated on what makes African-American fashion the way it is. Certainly shows like this are also meant to educate people like me with little interaction to certain ethnic groups, and SL is a perfect place for such education. 

There is a purpose to shows such as Ebony, it's for people who lack the awareness that such fashion exist. SL is about options, of expressing diversity nowadays. We can't avoid diversity and people must know more that such diversity in fashion exist. If we embrace diversity in the forms of Neko, Goth, Asian or furry, why can't we embrace Ebony? People who choose to be in that skin color should be able to make that choice and enhance their look.

Those who were residents long enough in SL would complain about the "lack" of diversity and cookie cutter skins. Before it's hard to find really good looking dark skins out that there are so many options, and people are not afraid to experiment, one agency tries to represent the shift and people are making a huge deal. 

The true irony of it all is that while people have no trouble putting up fashion shows for Asian-oriented fashion, Goth, and such, when a fashion show that featured a collection of designers dedicated to the African-American culture brings up the narrow-mindedness of some people in the grid that are reacting to it and interpreting it in their way. There shouldn't be any hesitation to showcase the things that define a certain race or culture, it's not stereotypical at all, it's just showing what is there, a slice of RL that made it's way into SL. The fact that SL fashion history would list this event as happening so late in the age of SL fashion says a lot about how in a world where race is optional, we are still judged by the color of one's skin and there are people who find a problem in showing off one's ethnicity.

"Well if you can be whatever you want in SL, then why would you want to be in SL who you are in RL?" People would ask.

Why not?

Black,white, brown or yellow--that shouldn't limit us from our creativity, at times designers find inspiration from race and the culture it accompanies. They can either mix it up--make it multiracial, globally-infused fashion, or they can stick to the fundamentals and make something that is truly "Ebony" or truly "Japanese".

Gattina's post title just reminded me how impossible the lyrics' words are. As long as you're human in SL, you will have certain affinity with a race that is skin deep. You can't change that, but what you can change is something that is located beyond the skin, your character, where one is truly supposed to be judged on. And that will enable you to transcend races, when you transcend races, you won't see the fuss or fear the emergence of shows such as Ebony, but embrace it.

People have the right to color, to diversity. People don't have the right to be bigoted.


Ada Radius said...

Racism is alive and well iSL. I make skins across all the ranges of skin tones, and am still shocked at the responses I get if I go out in one of the darker tones, whether dark Asian, African or Native American. It's always men (boys, maybe), and always offensively sexual. And these are nomakeup or light makeup skins, and I dress conservatively.

Anonymous said...

i remember a discussion about that inworld as well...when some people wear black/dark skins, some people meeting them will react negatively. it's sad, but to someone who isn't black in RL, very enlightening.

The only black color that isn't offending in SL are represented in fabrics, textures, and furries. When on human skin, it's open to hate and bigotry.