Shopping, Race, Lookbook

The fashion app Dote uses diversity as a prop to hide its racism

If a company is going to brand itself off of diversity, then they need to just do more than place a couple of minorities in a photo

Ever since this year’s Coachella, a group of young minority girls in the Youtube community publicly came forward to share their experiences during Dotechella, in which they felt like they were treated differently because of their skin color. Each of the girls was sent to attend Coachella by a fashion app called Dote.

The company is known for sending young social media influencers on these trips for free, to places such as Texas, Disneyland, and Fiji. The purpose of these trips is to help promote the app. All you have to do is mention this app on social media and you get invited on a trip for free by the company. 

The girls claimed that they felt separated from the white girls on the trip in the Dotechella house. In the clips that the girls shared in their videos, you can see that the black and brown girls had pullout couches as beds while the other girls had bunk beds. Vereena Sayed, who is Egyptian-American said that all the minority girls had to share one bathroom on their side. Meanwhile, the rest of the girls had two bathrooms on their side of the house.

Many of the girls discussed the situation among each other saying that they noticed the differences and decided to speak up on this issue. Keisha Shadė Akinyemi, a black British YouTuber made her video on the situation after watching Daniella Perkins video. From Keisha’s video, many young girls of color, including those who did not attend Coachella were inspired by her to make their own video on how they felt about the controversy.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that this company has done something like this. Nine months earlier, Dote also sent a group of young social media influencers to Fiji. Kianna Naomi, a black YouTuber mentions in her video that she felt like an outcast on the trip for many reasons. One in which she mentions that it was clear she was the “token black girl” on the trip just so the company can promote diversity. She wasn’t even included in the photo shoots that the girls were in.

Since the Coachella incident, CEO and founder of Dote, Lauren Farleigh released an apology saying that they did not intentionally group the girls based on race. After that, the company uploaded photos with a bunch of brown and dark-skinned girls, one of them being plus sized, captioned them “this is what Dote looks like” on their Instagram page. According to Chinese-American YouTuber, Annie Long, the pictures that they posted were from the fall season and the plus size woman is one of the photographers. To me, and many other people following this incident, the apology doesn’t seem convincing. 

If you think of it, this isn’t something new. It’s not just in fashion, but even in places like social media and Hollywood diversity is just a buzzword. As an African-American, I know what it is like to feel left out from a group of people. When I was younger, I used to look at catalogs from different clothing every week when they came in the mail along with the newspaper. As I looked through them, it occurred to me that they all looked the same and that they were white.

I thought to myself “Where are all the brown-skinned people?” To this day, I still have these thoughts when it comes to the lack of diversity in the fashion and film industry.

If a company is going to brand itself off of diversity, then they need to just do more than place a couple of minorities in a photo and call it diverse. So many young girls look up to this brand and even mentioned that they would like work for them, but after hearing about the discrimination that happens on camera and behind the scenes, they’re starting to have second thoughts, and I don’t blame them.  It’s hard to see these young girls get taken advantage of from a brand that promises to give these girls equal opportunities, yet they never happen.

Fashion is something that brings people together and makes people have a good time doing what they love most. We shouldn’t be separating a group of people just because they’re not what we see in the average media. People from all walks of life need to feel represented so that they can inspire others to do the same.

What Dote and other companies that want to include representation can do is to make people feel included. And by doing so, they need to reach out to more people of color and include different sizes as well.

I hope one day these companies can find a way to be inclusive and make people feel like they belong in a place where they feel safe.

  • Aisha Sowe

    Aisha Sowe is a high school senior from Maryland who writes for her school newspaper The Current. Writing is one of her biggest passions as she finds opportunities voice on equality, world issues, and culture. Aisha plans to attend college and major in International Studies