Now see, you should have just sat there and ate your food...
IMG model Devon Windsor, who I’m sure is a nice enough, if woefully naive girl, found out the hard way that sometimes—OK, most times—it’s best to just listen when people are talking about a struggle you can’t relate to, rather than unnecessarily insert yourself and your own perceived struggle into the conversation.
This is what happened on last Thursday’s episode of the brand new docuseries Model Squad on E!, when Windsor (who low-key has pretty much the whitest name ever—unless you hail from certain spots in the Caribbean) attempted to join a conversation fellow models were having about diversity.
Cast members Shanina Shaik (who is Australian of Pakistani, Arab and Lithuanian descent—and newly wed to DJ Ruckus), Ping Hue (who is Chinese American) and several other models of color were hanging out, having an honest conversation about discrimination within the fashion industry and the struggles they’d faced, as a result. While recounting stories of being excluded from castings, opportunities and even entire fashion weeks (we see you, Milan) because of their race and/or color, they were joined by Windsor and castmate Olivia Culpo, who asked what they were discussing.
“Diversity?” (Cue awkward pause and instant looks of discomfort amongst the white models.)
Hue graciously tried to throw her castmates a preemptive lifeline (because that’s what WoC often do), saying she knows “it’s probably super hard to relate to.” Wisely, Culpo and another model took the hint and remained silent, but Windsor wasted no time in letting her peers know that she, too, has been oppressed.
“I literally fucking went through hell,” Windsor claims, pointing out her difficulties being a model on the rise for two years in Europe, where she didn’t speak Italian or “Paris.”
“I don’t think you can relate to the turmoils of being different,” Hue calmly countered.
Sensing that perhaps her struggle wasn’t being received as quite the burden she perceived it to be, Windsor doubled down.
“You know how hard it is to be blonde?” she asked, clearly oblivious to the horrified looks of her peers. “I have to get a highlight every month!”
Ma’am. Your blues ain’t like mine. Trust.
According to The Cut—which shaded the hell out Windsor with its headline: “White Model Says She Can Relate to WOC’s Struggles, Because Getting Highlights Sucks”—Windsor has since apologized for her culturally insensitive gaffe. But at the risk of sounding as insensitive as she did, how lily-white does your world have to be for you to compare your choice to be a chemically enhanced blonde with being an actual person of color? Are those highlights seeping into her brain? Who are her parents? Hell, who are her friends?
Maybe we should ask another, more famous E! network starlet, Kim Kardashian, who shockingly revealed on Sunday’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians that she does not like her big butt (and she cannot lie).
“I cry about it on the daily,” she claimed.
You mean this butt?
Or this butt?
We won’t go into the highly debated origin and upkeep of Kardashian’s backside, because what can’t be debated is that it has made a significant contribution to her fame—and her income. Nor can it be disputed that what is considered a highly marketable asset (pun intended) on her body rarely garners the same admiration or acclaim on the millions of black and brown girls walking around with comparable proportions.
But for Kardashian—the mother of two black daughters who may very well grow up with shapes similar to her own—to publicly excoriate an asset she’s exploited for years speaks volumes about her privilege. Like Windsor, there’s a profound luxury in complaining about a feature you’ve been able to market to your benefit, while simultaneously dismissing the very real struggles of women of color in the process.
But hey—makes for great TV, I guess.