Instagram account Aussie WOC has been called out for allegedly making racially insensitive comments, despite having a mission to do the opposite.
If you’re unfamiliar with the account, Aussie WOC (@aussiewoc) is an Instagram account that was urging brands to “pull up or shut up” amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.
The account urged brands to be transparent about their own BIPOC internal representation, while also demanding them to commit to ongoing plans to feature at least 25% BIPOC people in their social media/advertising content.
It began when the Aussie WOC account called out Country Road for not being inclusive enough, according to screenshots of the Instagram story. (The Aussie WOC account has since been deleted.)
An Indigenous model (who did not want to be named) told PEDESTRIAN.TV he messaged the Aussie WOC advising that Country Road did, in fact, use Indigenous models.
“Then why isn’t it in their feed?” the Aussie WOC account replies, in screenshots sent to P.TV.
“Only light skinned models?”
In another screenshot, the account calls an Indigenous model “light skinned euro centric”. In yet another, it says that Indigenous model Billie Jean, who has blonde hair is “even worse”.
“Blonde hair? That’s worse. Not a model. Racist. Good try.”
The movement’s founder, Ashlene has now been called out herself, with many starting to question whether she had any involvement with the posts. She denies sending these messages, and claims the screenshots are photoshopped to harm her reputation.
In a statement to P.TV, Ashlene said:
“We believe urging brands to have more representation of BIPOC is important and we’re proud of the work we have accomplished in a matter of days, to have major fashion brands Pull Up for diversity in Australia. As for the fake Instagram conversations with disparaging remarks towards models … these were created and circulated to hurt the campaign and stop us in our tracks. That is sadly now a legal matter. But if we stop asking for change, then it will never come. Let’s continue to push the important dialogue of representation for all women of colour in this country.”
Another Indigenous model who appeared in the Country Road campaign, Nathan McGuire, took to his Instagram to discuss the issue of “gaslighting for Indigenous Australians and questioning our identity as Aboriginal people.”
Throughout the emotional video, Nathan discussed how traumatic it can feel to essentially be told that you’re simply not Black enough to represent the Indigenous community, which is extremely problematic and downright offensive.
“The responses to the images of myself and the other Aboriginal model were against what Aboriginal people believe, they were commentary on my complexion and also the other model’s complexion and features, saying that they were not indicative of what a real Aboriginal person looks like. For us Aboriginal people… we know how much weight this carries and the emotional baggage that is weighed down on us and the generational trauma it can trigger, so it’s a highly sensitive topic.”
Since the moment Australia was first colonised, Indigenous Australians have been ridiculed for their appearance in one way or another, and it simply must stop.
Following the backlash from the Indigenous community, the @aussiewoc account has been deleted, with Ashlene’s business also privatising its account. Marie Claire has also deleted an article they published about Aussie WOC, asserting that they will no longer be promoting the @aussiewoc account.
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