Afro-Latina Photographer Denisse Benitez Called Out Brand For Lack of Diversity, And We’re Here For It.
It seems like everywhere you go in the world of social media, you can't even blink without seeing the word influencer. Social media has become oversaturated with #ad #sponsored and yet those same ads aren’t inclusive to black and brown people. Sure, they want us for their natural hair and makeup campaigns, but as it relates to fashion, the opportunities are beyond scarce. Still, influencing for many of your favorite bloggers is a job. It's how they feed their families, and ultimately survive. Therefore many are deterred from speaking up fearing that if they do, opportunities might be taken from them - and then there's Denisse Benitez.
The Afro-Latina award-winning photographer and influencer who uses her platform of over 30k to advocate for representation and will let you know quickly, influencing is not her bread and butter (translation, sis has time to get these brands together). Some consider her to be too opinionated, but the future is unapologetically black & brown - so we're here for it.
“To many people, I may just be the angry brown girl online who’s always online upset about something. That’s cool too and if you feel that way then you just don’t get it. That’s part of the problem."
VICIDOLLS a well-known brand took an influencer trip, and the photo posted brought about some controversy.
After TV Host Kamie Crawford expressed her take on the issue, Denisse shared in that sentiment and took to her IG story to voice her frustrations. VICIDOLLS responded by immediately posting a black girl on their Instagram just to post thirty-six photos of white girls thereafter before posting another woman of color on their feed.
Denisse called them out, and after having what she called a "distasteful" conversation with Vicidolls, she shared their exchanges and her feelings regarding their curt responses. Many agreed with her, but there were also those who wrote off her commentary as "annoying."
Denisse then addressed the controversy in detail on her website chasingdenisse.com, where she expressed why diversity and inclusion matters to her, the collaborative buying power of African-American's and Latino's being 2.6 trillion, POC businesses she patronizes, and the elephant in the room that is white privilege.
"If you are reading this and you are white, you have the privilege of not understanding the struggle of what it’s like to be a person of color in America. You have the privilege of not being a consumer who is often deliberately left out of marketing campaigns because they are not found appealing to the majority of the people in our society. Most places you shop, you are the majority. Now imagine walking into Tommy Bahama and wanting to find a tropical shirt identical to the 18 you got last year, but everyone in their store ads, catalogs, and even the associates are black. How comfortable would you feel shopping there? Would you notice? Would you be more hesitant towards spending your money there in that specific location? Would you think, “Gosh, this sure looks like an all black Tommy B’s.” Would you complain and write to their corporate office explaining your discomfort when you didn’t see a single white person there that you could identify with? If your answer is no then I applaud you. If your answer is yes, then you have some work to do because that is how it feels when we shop 90% of the time. Whether it’s online or in person."
The culture needs more people like Denisse, who aren't afraid to advocate by any means necessary. Honestly, whether the company showing blatant disrespect is Vicidolls, Revolve, Pepsi, H&M, Victoria's Secret, etc. it doesn't matter. Their beliefs, mission, and white advertising is but a mere glimpse into what they really think of the black/brown bodies who patronize them, and that is, in fact, the issue. Minorities deserve better. Plus size women deserve better. The LBGTQ community deserves better. Marginalized groups deserve better. Stay woke, stay inclusive, shop black/brown, and shop smart.