Apparently, slavery is now considered haute couture in the world of fashion. Well at least according to Pakistani fashion designer Aamna Aqeel. Aqeel has a lot of explaining to do when it comes to the photos below:
Aqeel’s latest shoot titled “Be My Slave”, falls into several categories:
A) An attempt at being provocative
D) Colonialism at its finest
None of these categories are anything to be proud of.
In a recent interview with The International Herald Tribune’s Salima Feerasta, Aqeel denied a racist angle:
According to her, the choice of a dark-skinned Baloch child was purely incidental. “He works in a garage and wanted some work,” she said. Obviously the parents of usual child models wouldn’t have agreed to the shoot. The pampered little cuties who advertise soap, toothpaste and biscuits on TV may not have looked right for the part but even if they had, no one would have let their child play such a degrading role.
Aqeel’s argument is that she wanted to spark a debate on child labour. She says she is involved with a children’s charity and wanted to highlight how ‘society madams’ employ child labour in their homes. She is educating and supporting the child used in the shoot — it seems the least she can do after exploiting him in this fashion.
It’s facetious of the designer to claim that she was trying to stimulate a debate on child labour. The model wearing her clothes is clearly comfortable with her dominant position. She is not made up in a way that shows her to be the villain of the piece. The use of a dark skinned child in a shoot entitled “Be My Slave” certainly reeks of racism, however much the designer may deny it. And if anything, the shoot seems to condone child labour.
Aqeel went on to deny that this was a publicity-seeking move on her part and says she is happy at the pace her brand is developing. Her purpose for this shoot was apparently not to publicise her brand, but to raise public awareness of a social issue. Apparently, she feels so blessed with her success that she wants to give back to society and feels that it’s every individual’s duty to do what he or she can to make life better for the underprivileged.
I guess we can add this “incident” to the long list of slavery inspired fashion spreads.