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image credit @stylenotcom, Hypebeast, Brené Brown,

The case of the (bad) hoodie

  • The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. – Coco Chanel

Both the news and the fashion news cycle have been intense lately. In the fanciful world of clothes and ideas that can appear so extravagant at times, few pieces of coverage have gone as viral as Kanye West’s latest outrageous “secret” show, or rather its finale, and what followed.

The rapper, accompanied by conservative podcast host Candace Owens, appeared wearing a hoodie stamped with the slogan “White Lives Matter”, to the outrage of many of the media and VIPs in attendance (a few of whom left in protest).

As written by New York Times chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman:

‘[…] it turned out to be only nominally a fashion show and more like “The YZY Experience”: a chaotic mess of self-justification, confessional, bone-picking and messianic ambition, with a “White Lives Matter” shot of shock and provocation that overshadowed the clothes on the runway.'

After having declared LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault “his new Drake” (enemy in case you’re not following Ye’s ongoing public discourses), the artist who has a track record of donning MAGA hats didn’t explain himself beyond saying “you can’t manage me”.

The backlash against this insensitive and racially charged show of (hubris) was fast and furious. The unstable star (allegedly diagnosed as bipolar) found a ‘bouc émissaire’ in US Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, whom he attacked after she expressed her thoughts on his apparent defamation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Type the name Gabriella in Google; hers is the first one that will appear today. That’s beyond trending.

Seeing a world-renowned artist and designer, however crazy it may seem, go after a regular, non-world-famous person is a singular and disturbing event. The fashion world, and Vogue Magazine, have rallied around Karefa-Johnson. She shared how touched she was after seeing such an uprise of support. Yet she must have seen and heard some pretty horrid things in the past few days.

Ye-West hasn’t apologised but deleted his post and wrote something about how she was his sister, blah blah blah. I’m not sure his words are true, but the damage is done.

Tragically, the editor was attacked about her sense of style, which doesn’t fail to hit me, and probably many women too. His attack on her felt like an attack on me too. Why do we (men and women) always comment on how women LOOK when we disagree with a strong women’s opinion? The fact of the matter is, when women speak up, we go after what hurts, aka imperfect physical appearance. I’ll say imperfect because we are ALL imperfect.

We push women to feel bad about themselves, relentlessly, as if they’d (we) need to be the Venus of Milo, the Virgin Mary, and a Vogue cover star all rolled in one.

I’m outraged, as you can probably tell, because, of course, this has happened to me too, though thankfully, I’m far from Kanye’s radar. I’ve learned to let things slide, and that the criticism says more about the critic than the one being criticised.

Ms Karefa-Johnson seems like she can look after herself. However strong women are, are we ever ready to be on the other end of that much vitriol?

I thought that Brené Brown could look after herself too when she ended up being under attack after choosing to pause her Spotify-exclusive podcasts due to the Joe Rogen controversy. Her announcement generated both mountains of support and terrible backlash. As she later wrote:

*‘Sadly, on social media, my post has turned into a shit show, driven by unfounded accusations of censorship.
Comments like “I’m cancelling you for cancelling people” and “I hate censors so you shut up” and “I’m burning your books because I don’t agree with you” would be ironic and funny if they didn’t demonstrate a complete lack of critical thinking.'***

Turns out, Brown wasn’t doing too good at all. She and her team went on an extended hiatus over the summer. She just returned from her sabbatical, and in typical Brown fashion, she shared her story (on a new podcast episode) and the reflections that came from the pain and the shame that followed.

Yet I wish I’d learned about Ms Karefa-Johnson for a better and happier reason than the current circumstances. And I would quite like to give her a hug - perhaps I need one too.

Choosing to subvert the work of the Black Lives Matter movement is terrible even for West, but if you thought that was the most stupid thing you’d hear today, wait for it! Because meanwhile (in case you missed it), Elon Musk has taken to social media to try and resolve the Russia-Ukraine war via a Twitter poll. I swear I’m not lying, but even as I type this, it sounds ridiculous. The billionaire’s suggestions essentially give Russia everything they want, so much so that the Kremlin tweeted its thanks at his proposal.

What’s going on with these super-powerful dudes this week? Can we not put them back in their box, like joker jumping jacks we can safely pack away for a while, stick them at the back of a dark cupboard and focus on better things?

I can’t speak about women being attacked for what they wear (or refuse to wear) without mentioning the incredible courage currently displayed by women in Iran; women who are not just under attack mentally and physically but risking - or even losing - their lives for the right even to show their hair.

On this note, having had several wonderful Persian female friends and even family members (my favourite aunt by marriage was born in Tabriz), I find it particularly unfair that of all the women in the world, Iranian women have to hide their beautiful manes, because as far as I can tell, they have the best hair in the world. I wish we could celebrate them and support them more, so this is my small contribution:

Women. Life. Freedom.

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