In Time for Fashion Week: The Debasing Exploitation of Young Black Girls

09/08/2010 06:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011


This advertisement masked as a short film for a fashion line was commissioned and created by White men with no visible understanding of the real conditions in communities of abject poverty, and it has effectively turned a crisis facing Black girls into an opportunity to further degrade, demean and humiliate this vulnerable segment of America.

This is not a debate or criticism of "artistic freedom" or a call for censorship. It is about accountability. It is our opinion that this wanton exploitation of underage Black girls is an affront to Black communities delivered with a smirk, wink and a nod.

We understand the probable strategy in creating and marketing this advertisement. The designers and filmmaker will get their 15 minutes of fame, increased website traffic and perhaps greater exposure during fashion week. But we are not sure how reputable, high-end retailers that stock this clothing line such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys gain by associating with this exploitation of underage, impoverished Black girls.

For answers, BBN reached out by email to the clothing designer who did not respond to our request asking how they believe the advertisement will help to sell the clothing to those who can afford it - a high-end consumer base that more than likely does not look like the young girls depicted in the Ad. BBN also contacted by telephone Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys to ask how, as stewards of their century-old brand, is the demeaning projection of underage Black girls in line with their marketing and promotion strategy? BBN spoke with a representative of Bergdorf Goodman's public relations office who said she would call us back, and we also spoke with an assistant in Mark Lee's office, CEO of Barneys, who said someone would call us back. We also left a voice mail message with Barneys communications department. As of the filing of this story BBN has not heard from the designers, Bergdorf Goodman or Barneys.

To be fair, here is a greater list of other high-end retailers who seek to profit from this designer's clothing line and who we consider complicit in the exploitation and degradation of underage Black girls.

Finally, BBN searched the designer's website and did not find any models resembling the young girls wearing the exclusive, costly pieces in the advertisement.