Criiiiiiinge. Remember when Paula Deen went on about how fabulous the “plantation-themed” dinner she went to was, where waiters dressed like slaves and diners dressed like slaveowners? This ain’t that different from that y’all.
In Blake Lively’s latest issue of Preserve the actress is encouraging readers to draw fashion inspiration from Southern slaveowners.
“The term “Southern Belle” came to fruition during the Antebellum period (prior to the Civil War), acknowledging women with an inherent social distinction who set the standards for style and appearance. These women epitomized Southern hospitality with a cultivation of beauty and grace, but even more with a captivating and magnetic sensibility. While at times depicted as coy, these belles of the ball, in actuality could command attention with the ease of a hummingbird relishing a pastoral bloom… Embrace the season and the magic below the Mason-Dixon with styles as theatric as a Dixie drawl.”
What’s super weird about this is that the publication seems to be emphasizing: a.) That this is pre-Civil War, thus the time of rampant slavery. b) That these were women of “inherent social distinction” a.k.a. socialites whose families owned slaves. c.) Glamorizing the “magic below the Mason-Dixon”—that magic below the Mason-Dixon line was actually slavery because, you know, the Mason-Dixon line was the imaginary border separating the North and South that served to recognize which states permitted slavery (it was the ones below it, ding, ding, ding!). These women were only allowed to live such affluent lives, to be designated as socialites, to wear such beautiful clothing because of the dehumanization and degradation of slave labor.
It’s not as though it’s wholly offensive to celebrate the clothing and textiles of this era, though we should ask if these textiles and clothes were created with the help of slave labor (they were!), but it seems as though Blake Lively and Preserve are celebrating one of the worst eras in American History. It’s grossly insensitive and completely tone deaf to say, “Weren’t these slaveowners cute?” Ummmm. Do better next time, Preserve.