Is Wet Seal Still Anti-Black and Fatphobic?
This week, Wet Seal ran a campaign called “Wet Seal Believes In You.” Well, from the results of it, I’m pretty sure they only believe in you if you are white, regardless of whether or not your peers do. Sadly, Kierra Tanner learned this the hard way after winning the contest by a landslide of 2,000 votes – leading the second place contestant by a difference of 700 votes. There was nothing stating that peer voting would be rendered null if Wet Seal didn’t like who had won the contest.
Here’s exactly what went down, as directly provided by Kierra Tanner herself:
- Kierra entered the contest November 21.
- Voting for the contest ended on Dec 4 @ 4 am.
- Applicants were supposed to be notified by December 16th, after the end of the voting period. According to Ms. Tanner, they did not receive word in an official manner on when contest winners would be notified until December 23rd.
- As of Dec 23, Ms. Tanner had not been contacted
- On December 24, Wetseal notified all other contestants via their Facebook page that they had chosen the winners.
- At the voting period, Ms. Tanner ended with a 700 vote lead and over 2k votes.
Wet Seal is absolutely no stranger to allegations of racism. A few years ago, Wet Seal was accused of being anti-black. There was enough backing evidence to slap them with a whopping 75 million dollar fine, so from a social standpoint, it’s no surprise to hear that they are back at it again. Most claims of racism sadly do not have tangible evidence to present in court. In this case, however, Wet Seal provided an extensive details of the allegations against them through “paper trails” of emails written by corporate higher ups.
One such example was from the former VP of Operations, Barbara Bachman, after inspecting several stores. In 2009, she sent an email to lower level managers in which she very specifically reported, “African American dominate — huge issue.”
The day after that particular email was sent out, the plaintiff Nicole Cogdell (seen in the video above) was fired. There is absolutely zero way anyone can give that statement the typical, white privilege-soaked, “benefit of the doubt.” Statements like that are BLATANT corporate-level white supremacy. With a past of racism, it is no surprise that things have not changed.
Speaking directly with Kierra Tanner, I asked her what she would like to see done. “I would like them to award me my rightful prize and apologize for their misleading rules and unfair practices.” When I asked her about why she feels that she was excluded, she said, “I believe this particular contest was done in such an underhanded way (to promote) beauty ideals that I don’t fit, like fair skin and thin bodies. A major part has to be looking good for their barely there consumer base, instead of Wet Seal choosing the people’s favorite.”
It should never be too much for someone to expect things to flow fairly in contests like these. When businesses reach out to consumers to supposedly show that they care and then take it upon themselves to completely change the result of contests, they show that it is all lip service. Further than that, they show an incredible lack of respect for their consumers by overriding their vote. While the company may see it as an act of marketing, they have shown yet again that they are still engaging in acts of white supremacy.
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