Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by stargirl, Mar 10, 2019.
It’s still going. Both of these are a reach and a half. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.
Not attacking you at all @stargirl just wanted to clarify and I hope this doesn't come off rude!
To go off of @elle_w00ds , and I'm speculating at her intention but this how I see it, what is (unintentionally) racist, to put it not lightly, is assuming that these Maasai women wouldn't understand our "Western" aka "cultured/advanced/modern" idea of femininity and culture. It's been ingrained in society for ages. The west forces these roles of being uncivilized and archaic on non western ( "the orient") and this is exclusively how we depict these cultures through media, writing, art, etc. Thus they will always be seen as less and other and we will continue to think of these tribes men and women of all minorities as not being able to understand certain aspects of the "great modern West." For instance, we rarely see modern African Art, it's always tribal which limits the scope of these actually advanced cultures and societies.
Edward Said "On Orientalism" is a great read for all who are interested in this topic.
The croissant picture was vile and what makes it even worse is that it was by the global head of marketing at Jimmy Choo, Claire Balsy who proceeded to change her username 5 times instead of just apologising. Solid proof that these women are not sorry for this - they are sorry someone called them out for it.
1. The croissant thing was insensitive, but it’s a long-running in-joke he has with some girls in his class, and 2.
The women were there to work out, vacation in Africa, and get filmed for Russell’s Instagram. They weren’t there maliciously, to mock African culture and establish white dominance. Additionally, they had no control over how it was presented on social media. They really have nothing to be “sorry” for other than that people were hurt/offended by a video they were in..
I can accept that you think that taking advantage of the tribe's approval to prance around disadvantaged women doing pilates and planks then eating goddamn avocado toast and drinking mimosas is nothing to be sorry for because you're a bit younger. However, most of these women were absolutely above mid 20s and should have known much better.
The tribe was nothing but a backdrop to them. Why couldn't they have a bourgeois picnic on the grass and do some squats in a first world country instead of bringing it to an area with actual problems besides being thin and fit? Please tell me the 'cultural exchange' that occurred here.
Not one of those women in those videos exercising around tribal women in Kenya belongs on SG, because this has always been a forum for intelligent women - women who care deeply about being skinny, but not bimbos who would prioritise/flaunt their need to be thin in a place with thousands of much more important issues.
You want to go to Kenya and visit a sacred community? Dont do it with Instagram selfies and pictures of you exercising. Use your position of extreme privilege to do something useful there.
Sorry, the women on here have always been smart, worldly women. Not one person here would ever say I went to Kenya to 'work out, vacation and get filmed for a guy's Instagram.'
Jumping back into the discussion — having lived with a Maasai family in Tanzania for a brief period of time, I can confirm that at least the younger generation are very much aware of “Western” culture. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a power imbalance. The Maasai are exploited even by the rest of the people of sub-Saharan Africa who use the excuse that they are not technically citizens of any country and that their society doesn’t use money to justify paying them inhumane wages for difficult work when they do leave Maasai lands. But then, given the way Maasai society itself has changed with the coming of colonialism and the development of the rest of that region of Africa, they’ve come to rely on money for necessities like their clothing, waterproofing materials for their manyattas (huts), and even certain foods like maize. All this means that they’re very open to exploitation by foreigners because of their limited access to money, and thus, will sometimes do things they find degrading (one example: the second child of a family I met dances for tourist groups in nearby cities, which to me sounds quite similar to what SBC is under fire for).
Not much of this is common knowledge, but certainly should have been researched by Russell before undertaking this trip. SBC isn’t innocent.
I’m young, not stupid. I was raised in a very liberal city, and I’m part of a generation where social justice was engrained into our education. I know why people are mad at this. But, given my knowledge about and experience with SBC, I also know that the women on the retreat had no control over the involvement of the Maasai. I’d go so far as to say they probably didn’t know about it until they started the workout, and their dynamic with Russell, which maybe is an issue as well, is one where they wouldn’t speak out about it, especially not in the moment.
I’m not implying there was one. I disagree with this point in Russell’s apology, mainly because of how stupid it sounds. British culture = jump squats and burpees? He clearly thinks his workout class is way more significant than it actually is.
Well, the main reason they wouldn’t belong on SGF is that they’re all over BMI 19, but that’s beside the point:
I have an issue with your phrasing. No one goes on an exercise retreat to “flaunt their need to be thin.” (?) If that was their biggest concern- to get as skinny as possible- they would have saved their 10k and spent a week at the gym instead. I highly doubt any of these women were there mainly to lose weight. They were essentially on vacation, traveling to a luxury resort in a beautiful destination with friends, plus the added bonus of social media clout. Are these good reasons to do what SBC did? No, but I’d also say that there would be no controversy over this retreat if the Maasai weren’t filmed in the workout videos, even though Kenya would still have all the same vague “problems” you alluded to, the least of which are tribal people jumping around in a workout video and making £££ from it.
Russell’s entire brand is based on making things look good for social media, and this looked very bad on social media. It made people uncomfortable, it reinforced ugly history and stereotypes, and now he’s facing serious repercussions because his empire was so flimsy to begin with, thus it was easily knocked down.
Good response. I appreciate your points, but I do still hold that all of those women knew better than to be posting so many Instagram stories at the time working out with those women. I called out Claire in particular as I am in utter disbelief that you could head up marketing for a diverse and global brand and be posting pictures of yourself doing planks next to women who lack access to education, proper healthcare and equality.
Exercise and wellness retreats are just about one of the most obvious displays of extreme privilege that exists in society. Even if the women were not in the videos - if one has 10k pounds to spend on an exercise vacation, the common person would find it in very poor taste to spend said retreat in a country that experiences such extreme levels of poverty and glaring inequality.
So, yes, whether the women knew about the involvement of the tribal women or not, I do believe they should feel ashamed for an ostentatious display of wealth such as an 'exercise vacation' in this region. There is nothing I have seen in the videos, pictures or descriptions of the trip, including yours, that couldn't have been done in a first world country.
And is he facing serious repercussions? Not one fashion media source even reported on it. Only mainstream sources such as Buzzfeed and DailyMail. For some reason, they're all happy to attack Burberry for a hoodie resembling a noose but declined to publish this. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe Vogue Paris has even ended their relationship with him as Wellness Contributor.
Just a few corrections, as it's important to me that all the info here is accurate:
The stories in question were posted by Russell on the SBC Instagram account. I personally don't follow any of the women in the stories (most of them actually went private since) and don't know if any of them reposted the stories, but I wouldn't be surprised, seeing that reposting SBC stories is a big thing in "SBC culture" ( ). However, it still stands that Russell was the one choosing how this was going to be presented. Also, minor nitpick, but I don't remember reading anywhere that it was just Maasai women in the videos, but I might be wrong there.
I don't know the extent of the money/partnerships/jobs he lost, but I'll tell you this: Instagram is his main business and identity. His insta has been down for like 4 days now. That's extremely significant when your whole line of work is Instagram-based. Looking into the future, I can't see many brands or companies wanting to work with him after SBC as a whole was basically torn down. And idk if you've ever read one of his "contributions" for Vogue Paris, but they're all essentially the same list of ways to better your life, with something about sex thrown in, and inevitably one or two plugs for his supplements or online training program. I believe future readers of Vogue Paris are not going to let that fly if they notice it after this "expose", especially since his self-help articles were so thoroughly ridiculed by Diet Prada. The future attendance significance existence of his actual classes remains uncertain as well.. a lot of people might not want to associate themselves with SBC from now on.
Agree with you though that the retreat was shallow and vapid... this sums it up nicely:
Thanks. Agree with most of this, you have made your point well - overall a good example of how to discuss opposing views and reinforcing my point of the general intelligence and class on SG.