Shoes from singer Katy Perry's fashion line have been pulled from shelves, following accusations from the public that the shoes resemble 'blackface'.
The shoes, which are stocked in US stores such as Walmart and Dillard's, caused controversy online due to their appearance, which many said resembled the racist practice of 'blackface'. The accusations are especially significant as it is currently Black History Month, which continues for the whole of February.
What is blackface?
Blackface is the practice of putting on make-up and exaggerating certain features in order to resemble racist stereotypes of black people. The origins of blackface trace back to 'minstrel shows' in the mid-19th century in America, where white performers would use blackface to mimic and mock African slaves; portraying them as lazy, ignorant or aggressive. The practice in the 21st century is widely regarded as deeply offensive.
Blackface in the fashion industry
The backlash to Katy Perry's fashion line is not the first incident of accusations of blackface being used in the fashion industry. Just last week, major fashion label Gucci came under fire for the same reason, after a high neck, balaclava-style sweater was deemed offensive by the public.
Gucci removed the sweater from their website, and issued an apology, saying:
"We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond."
In December, Italian fashion house Prada also faced backlash from customers, after a $550 keychain from its 'Pradamalia' line, which took the form of a monkey figure with red over-exaggerated lips, was accused of being offensive.
Prada also issued a statement on the products, saying:
"They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface. Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery...”