The fashion director of Vogue’s Brazilian edition has resigned after photos taken at her 50th birthday party provoked anger for evoking colonial depictions of slavery.
The party pictures showed Donata Meirelles, who is white, sitting on an ornate seat, accompanied by four black women dressed in white. The outfits have been likened to the white uniforms worn by house slaves, while the chair’s similarity to a cadeira de sinhá, a highly decorative chair used by slave masters, was also noted by critics.
“The black women were used as objects to create an exotic scene,” said Stephanie Ribeiro, who pens a #BlackGirlMagic column in the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire. “It’s reminiscent of colonialism and romanticizes those times. She was recreating the image where whites are superior and blacks are dehumanized.”
One Instagram user juxtaposed the image of Meirelles with an archival photo of a woman on a sedan chair with two slaves. “The first one is from 1860,” she wrote. “The second one is actually from 2019.”
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“(…)Já as escravas de casas ricas eram adornadas por seus próprios senhores. Quando saíam para as ruas acompanhando suas senhoras ou crianças, eram exibidas em trajes finos e carregadas de joias.A própria escrava era um objeto de ostentação do dono, um objeto de luxo a ser mostrado publicamente”. Trecho do livro Jóias de Crioula de Laura Cunha e Thomas Milz. A primeira foto foi tirada em 1860. De acordo com @edercansino a foto que faz parte do acervo do @imoreirasalles, intitulada “senhora da família Costa Carvalho na liteira com dois escravos” foi feita na Bahia por fotógrafo desconhecido. A segunda imagem é de 2019 mesmo. #sóeuacheiestranho #Bahiaterradafelicidade #ritadeixederecalque #passeodedinhoprolado #osprincípiosacimadaspersonalidades #qualquersemelhança #nãoémeracoincidência
Meirelles responded to critics on Instagram, saying the chair was an artifact from the Afro-Brazilian folk religion candomblé, and the clothes were traditional Bahian party attire. “Even so, if I caused any different impressions, I am sorry,” she said.
On Wednesday, Meirelles announced that she would resign. The magazine also announced it would create a panel of activists and academics to consult on creating content that addresses inequality — a move dismissed by Ribeiro as “a forum for black activists to act like babysitters telling them whether something is racist or not.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.