I don’t know about you, but I have loved that movie since I was about eight years old, pretty much as soon as it came out on video and my sister rented it. I was too young to totally get it, but that didn’t stop me. Like with Grease, you get a new joke or are scandalized by another bit of slang every time you watch it. It’s great.
Anyway. So this company Metail decided to finally make a version of Cher’s amazing closet computer that tells her if her outfit works or not. This has been everyone’s dream since 1995. You give it your measurements and it makes a little model, and you can click on clothes, and it’s just a little Internet paper doll. Then you can take a picture and #ShareYourCher to win a gift card or something. This is excellent, because I LOVED paper dolls when I was younger, and nobody ever wanted to play them with me.
So once I start clicking, I decide I want to customize the “model” so it looks a little bit like me. Body shape it actually got pretty down, I think. So obviously the first thing I click on is “change my skin tone.” And lo and behold, there are three options: three white options, which are so alike they make your average fashion magazine and its seven shades of white people, one shade of anyone J. Lo and darker look positively diverse. Literally, it is three white girls. They have different hair colors. That’s what makes them different. I don’t even want you to think I’m overreacting. Look at this:
Not only does this suck, because racism and because DO YOU PEOPLE HAVE EYES IN YOUR HEADS?, but also, it really doesn’t honor to the things that I liked about Clueless (I will NOT talk about Iggy Azalea, I will NOT talk about Iggy Azalea, because I will just be sad if I do), and of course this is all about me. It’s my blog.
Clueless was probably the first (and the only one I can think of at the moment) movie I saw that co-starred a black girl who was wealthy, equal to her white best friend, smart, sexy, and fleshed out. Dionne was amazing to me. It wasn’t just that she was a black girl plugged into a white girl’s role, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the script had originally called for a white actress. It was that she was both a black girl who was definitely BLACK – she had braids, she could code-switch, she couldn’t pass even if she wanted to – and yet she was also a character who could have been any color, in that she was popular, sweet, a sane friend to Cher, rich, someone with convictions, someone who was cool enough to have a cool boyfriend, someone who had sexytimes and wasn’t judged for it by anyone. It took quite a few watches over quite a few years to get all of these things down and recognize them for how amazing they were, but still. There was always something to Dionne that I appreciated, that I found refreshing. (Also, points, because Stacey Dash stayed cool, ages INSANELY well, and is still quite sex positive and fun. Alicia Silverstone, sadly, has become a mix of Jenny McCarthy and Gwyneth Paltrow with her delusional ideas about health, science, and privilege.) It wasn’t that I looked up to her, necessarily, aside from wanting her hair and her boyfriend. It was that she indicated to me that black people could exist in stories outside of slavery, civil rights, or the ghetto. It said it was okay to still be black and to have white friends, which was the world I lived in, where I was more often than not the only black person, if not the only person of color, in a room. Being best friends with a white girl didn’t make Dionne less black. Her style and attitude clearly represented someone who had forged her identity based on ethnic markers, socioeconomic status, and social groups – you know, like WE ALL DO IN ACTUALITY.
I’m not sad because Metail is just your average fashion company that erases bodies of color as a matter of course – they all do, and we’re all used to it. I’m sad because they claim to be all about this amazing film that’s nearing its 20th anniversary and that means so much to so many people for a variety of reasons and on tons of different levels and then erased a major character. No, it’s not Dionne’s closet. But even Cher’s most iconic outfit, the plaid skirt, is placed onscreen NEXT TO A BLACK GIRL IN THE EXACT SAME OUTFIT, and yet she’s not the girl who gets ragged on for copying Cher. No, its just that great minds think alike. It’s what confirms for Cher and the audience that Dionne is fucking awesome. And Metail decided that she doesn’t exist.
Usual low level of faith in the fashion of beauty world: restored. Boo.
Edit: someone who works at Metail did respond to my tweets, which is not to say that I recant any of what I wrote above, but it was nice, so I thought I would at least acknowledge that they respond to critiques.