​Kim Kardashian showed off her latest hairdo: Fulani braids, inspired by Fulani women of East or West African. Except, in traditional Kardashian fashion, Kim robbed African American women of the credit for the style and called them “Bo Derek” braids instead. Bo Derek is a white actress who was seen with the hairstyle in 1978. The issue is that Kim Kardashian is acknowledging a white woman for wearing a hairstyle that Black African men and women have been rockin’ centuries before 1978. The ignorance (or pure, shameless culture robbing) comes at a time when Black men and women are still being told their natural hair is inappropriate for the workplace. Add that to the racial turmoil we are currently facing and it makes it nearly impossible to believe that Kim didn’t know any better. The Kardashian brand, as well as other brands, has been cultural appropriating, misrepresenting, and silencing the Black and Brown communities by cultural assimilating through fashion and entertainment. ​In 2017, Kylie and Kendall Jenner took images of late rappers Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur, put it on a t-shirt and plastered their own faces on them and sold them at $125 a piece. The famous sisters had no right from either the Wallace or Shakur estate to do so- leading to a huge backlash from the hip-hop community and fans for their attempt to exploit the culture for some revenue. While the sisters never spoke of the controversy, the shirts were no longer available on their website (it is unknown if they sold out or if they were discontinued). ​It’s been proven to us that several brands are continuously either stealing the voice of POC or misrepresenting our cultures for the opportunity at a fashion statement, sales, and exposure. Not too long ago, H&M made headlines with their “Monkey” hoodie scandal. H&M put a Black child model in a hoodie that read “coolest monkey in the jungle” while the little white boy sported a hoodie that read “Survival Expert.” Here’s the thing, we can excuse this for ignorance and maybe even innocence but the thing is that our world is in a very fragile state and if we are not setting the tone of equality and acceptance across all platforms, then we are contributing to the racial divide. The hoodie is dangerous in the sense that it calls the little black boy a monkey. Whether or not racism was H&M’s deliberate intention (which I personally doubt considering how much they have to lose), it no longer matters. The pure action of releasing the image is damaging. An image like that can teach little white boys to think of themselves as superior and to call little Black boys, Monkeys. This can lead to insecurities, lack of confidence and self-hate within the Black community and a huge lack of even awareness in the white community. An image like that can contribute to racism, evil, and hatred and not know any better is no longer acceptable.

​The truth of the matter is that these big corporations and these privileged celebrities do not know our stories because they are not us. While we can support their careers in other forms, it is important to acknowledge and call out when we see our cultures being exploited in music, fashion or style. If we support brands that are silencing and stealing our own stories, we may soon forget how powerful our own voices can be. Investing our money and loyalty into brands that speak for us through fashion and style simply because they understand us is important. It allows us, as POC, to take back our narrative. It gives us a space to embrace and teach about our culture and it initiates empowerment, confidence, and awareness. It also creates a space for people who know us and embrace us to represent us.

Check out these ladies who have taken fashion and style and have turned it into a force that empowers Latinas and celebrates their stories:

Viva La Bonita

This independent lifestyle and clothing brand is dedicated to celebrating fearless Latinas. The name “Viva La Bonita” itself embraces Latinas for all the beauty that they are in all shapes in shades. With over 56 thousand followers on Instagram, @Vivalabonita is empowering women to stay fierce, strong, brave, and shameless. Their models are often styled in looks with fiery red lipsticks, shades and, Virgin Mary chains (I have a few), and hoops (every Latina has hoops, on hoops, on hoops) so right away we can see a bit of ourselves in their branding. Aside from being fashion forward and paying homage to the Latinx culture, Viva La Bonita inserts powerful gems praising the Latina woman on almost all their t-shirts. Their message is simple but strong; “Thou Shall Not Be A Pendeja”, “Fierce Like Frida”, “Bonita” and “Mujeres Can Do Anything.”

This has been in the works for a while. 🌹✨ Some of us have been rockin’ our necklaces, bracelets, and earrings since the day we were born. ✨ This necklace is a dedication to all of you who have helped make Viva La BONITA what it is today. ✨ Thank you for allowing us into your life. We are still learning our business every single day, but one thing is for sure: Our BONITAS are golden. 🌹✨ I had one made for me a few years ago, and I kept getting requests to add them to the shop. But the timing wasn’t right. ✨ Our BONITA Necklace will be releasing in March. Pre orders will begin in February. Details will begin to unfold next week BONITAS! #VivaLaBONITA #LatinaBrand #LatinaStyle #Latina #newarrivals #musthave #womenempowerment #girlpower #BONITA #BONITASquad #Nameplate #Necklace #aesthetic

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Daughter Of An Immigrant

This brand is a beautiful dedication to our parents. It announces not only our support but also our pride in the parents who have had to cross borders, tread water, sacrifice and beat the odds for our sake. Daughter Of An Immigrant is making a statement that we are here because of them and that is all the reason to be proud of la lucha that we come from. Even in darkest and most confusing times, we are our parents’ children- (some of us) we are the daughters of Immigrants. As mentioned on their website, “we are the inspired breath of the brave”. Check them out!

 

Brown BadAss Bonita

Founded by @KimBjanes, Brown Badass Bonita was birthed out of a dark time in her life when she was struggling with her identity as a Latinx, learning to speak up and stand up for herself and others, and self-love. Kim explains how this idea grew from the need to change the narrative: “Being a brown, badass, bonita is revolutionary and controversial in our society. Mainstream media has taught us that brown women aren’t the beautiful ones. We were also trained to be submissive and subservient, “calladitas nos vemos más bonitas”. Pero, I said no! That’s not what bonitas are, being badass es bonita. A woman who speaks up for herself, does what she wants, and breaks culture norms by loving herself is the most beautiful and badass kind of woman there is! I wanted to embrace these things in myself and celebrate what society condemns in me. I wanted a shirt to wear as a shield of empowerment. So I made one.”

Jen Zeano Designs

Jen Zeano created Jen Zeano Designs in 2016 with the help of her wife, @vzeano. The idea began in her one bedroom apartment and started as a shop that sold mugs empowering free spirits to roam fearlessly and be unapologetically true to themselves. The brand caters to the “wild hearts” and “gypsy souls” but when Trump took office, JZD designed a t-shirt to empower Latinas. JZD’s best selling tee, the Latina Power tee has made an impact reminding Latinas of their natural magic, courage, and resilience. Since, JZD has made products stating “Viva La Mujer Que Lucha”, “Morena, Morena” and “Not Your Mamacita.” In every design, there is a reminder of our natural power. JZD delivers a stylish important statement that during turbulent political times, we still know ourselves.

Yo Soy AfroLatina

Yo Soy AfroLatina was founded in 2017 with the intention to correctly represent the AfroLatina community as well as inform those who may have been miseducated (Young Hollywood) on it. In her own words, Yo Soy AfroLatina founder explains: “It’s a brand that seeks to bring awareness to the Black Diaspora within Latin America and the Caribbean via an array of products (hats, mugs, t-shirts). I created Yo Soy because I felt like there was a lack of representation of Afro-Latinas and a lack of knowledge. In hopes of educating myself on what it means to be Afro-Latina, I also wanted to educate others.” At the core of Yo Soy AfroLatina is the necessity to inform and embrace the culture without needing it to fit it into one specific category. Yo Soy AfroLatina reminds AfroLatinas that the beauty of loving who you are is loving all of you- no need to pick. With Cardi B rising to fame, and Amara La Negra’s powerful voice on Love and Hip Hop, we are seeing the AfroLatinx community take back the narrative!