by Natasha Stewart

Discrimination.

In an era of cultural acceptance, the fashion industry abandoned this practice. More fashion brands were hiring models of colour, to represent their brand on television; propelling women like Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks to stardom. However, with the rise of technology and social media, a new wave of discrimination has been discovered. Females of colour, who make their living as YouTube influencers, are being tokenized and given worse facilities by the fashion company Dote. They were seen for the colour of their skin, due to selective diversity.

The Dote company is known for two things. They are known for their Dote Shopping app and for turning upcoming Youtube influencers into “Dote Girls”.

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“Dote Girls” were essentially Instagram models, who created vlogs to advocate the app online. and sponsor the app online. In exchange, the company would send these young women on expensive trips to places like Disneyland or Fiji. This seemed like a dream come true for any social media figure, but controversy emerged in 2019. Following its usual pattern,  the company sent these girls to Coachella and posted photos of them having fun. Followers online started asking questions, when it seemed as if white influencers had better facilities than girls of colour. This all reached ahead on Youtube, due when Daniella Perkins. She was one of the non-white influencers at the event, posted an inflammatory video that criticized the company, named “The Truth About Coachella Ft. Mental Breakdown”. She accused the brand of discriminating against “Dote Girls” who weren’t white, using footage she took as evidence.

She described how she and other girls, who weren’t white, had to share one bathroom and sleep on sofa beds.  At the same time, she describes how white females got three bathrooms to share and queen-sized beds instead. In the waves of outrage and sympathy after the video was posted, more YouTube influencers came forward about the trip. Vereena Sayed and Keisha Shade (aka ItzKeisha) told their audience that they were segregated from white girls in the house. This scandal then soon caught the attention of thousands more, when more girls came forward and claimed that this discrimination wasn’t limited to the Coachella trip.

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Kianna Naomi and Lisette are two prominent YouTubers of colour, who were sent to Fiji in 2018, by Dote. They both had grievances the company and felt that were only being used to fill a quota.  Kiana’s claim of “I didn’t think this company knows how to handle women of colour”, came about because of the poor selection and handling of photographers. Apparently, Kiana was being treated “like the token black girl” among the likes of Olivia Jade and Emma Chamberlain.  The photographers appeared to mainly take photos of the white females and( allegedly) didn’t even bother to remember Kiana’s name. Vloggers came forward and reinforced Kiana, by saying the photographs did, in fact, do this, and actually referred to her and others as “the black girls”.

You would think, upon discovering this issue, event organisers soon resolved it.

Solutions to this issue, according to the YouTubers, were poor at best. To them, the staff did try to organise a shoot to group all non-white girls together. However, they failed to truly fix this issue, when they left these photos unedited and disregarded, mainly using ones that featured the white group instead. Stirring the pot, Dote commented that it wasn’t their fault; that outside the scheduled sessions, it was up to photographers shoots.

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Their customers were not satisfied.

Criticism over the app and staff exploded. The selection of “Dote Girls” came under fire, for mainly selection girls who were white, thin and cishet. In an attempt to regain some of the audience they lost, Dote created the Instagram campaign called “This is what Dote looks like”. No longer did the brand focus on stereotypical beauty. They took photos of girls who were Asian, Black and mixed race and made them the new face Dote’s Instagram. Things seemed to improve further when photos of curvy and larger women posted too. However, customers continued to complain, especially when new information came forward. It was revealed that some of the photos featured weren’t brand new and were from past campaigns. Dote seemingly deleted photos to cover their tracks, only doing so as more YouTubers came forward.

Redemption became out of reach. The fashion industry learned (yet again)about the injustice of tokenizing black women. Dotechella reminded us that racial diversity isn’t a marketing campaign, but a standard fashion needs to follow.

Do you like Natasha’s writing? Send her an email regarding possible work at missnatashaamandastewart@gmail.com

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