Ethical clothing: Merino Ads

Is this ad racist? Or reproducing racist imagery?

Icebreaker Merino Wool Fall 2009 banner

I saw this ad in fiber options the other day. The person I was with did not initially read the male body as black (or even not white), which I found shocking as it seems obviously racialized as not white to me. This led me to reflect on how effectively white people are taught to not to see skin colour, which is part of what allows racialized advertising passes under the radar of racism.

I think what is especially remarkable about this ad is that not only is it so explicitly racialized, it is also gendered in interesting ways. The contrast of the larger black male body with the smaller white female body exaggerates the unrealistic differences between them. The woman’s legs are not even as big as the man’s arms!

nazi-race-posterNow this poster is more obviously racist. I doubt that anyone would be able to look at this poster and not see its racism, the prototypical “white man’s burden”. White people in North America have been so well trained to see the Nazis as racist, but sometimes I wonder if it is at the expense of being able to see other manifestations of racism.

What I find especially striking is the non-human characteristics of the brown body in both of the posters. I wonder if the folks at Merino know how obviously they are drawing on the long tradition of white racial superiority in their ad?

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One Comment

  1. Send this to the clothing company! You could post their public relations response. Making culture, indeed.

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