Madison Vanderberg
September 14, 2018 10:43 am

A clip from the E! docu-series Model Squad has gone viral after a white model, Devon Windsor, hijacked a conversation about diversity in the modeling industry to talk about the inconveniences of moving a lot, not speaking “Paris,” and dyeing her hair blonde. In the clip, a group of women of color were discussing the racism and colorism they’ve faced as models and the overwhelming diversity problem in the modeling industry as a whole.

"I used to get bullied. Because of my skin color, I wasn't gonna be able to do high fashion," model Shanina Shaik said in the episode. "A lot of black girls would have to miss Milan [Fashion Week] because they weren't able to walk in the shows because they don't want girls of that color."

Model Ping Hue then reasonably suggested that Devon and fellow white model Olivia Culpo might not be able to relate to their experiences, at which point Windsor got on the defensive and seemed to imply that her general annoyances in the modeling industry were comparable to racial discrimination.

"I literally fucking went through hell," Winsdor said, while adding that she lived in a new country every month. "[I] didn't speak that language, didn't speak Paris, didn't speak Italian."

(Side note: Didn’t speak Paris?)

Windsor concluded her rant with: “Do you know how hard it is to be blonde? I have to get a highlight every month!”

Naturally, the internet was both offended by Windsor’s blatant ignorance and confused by her complaint that “[I] didn’t speak Paris.” But her language goof should not distract from the fact that when confronted with the true accounts of racism and colorism faced by women of color in the model industry, instead of listening to them and hearing them, Windsor compared their experiences with discrimination to the general inconveniences she’s faced as a white model—as if they are the same.

Robin DiAngelo—author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism—explained to USA Today why white people are often unnecessarily defensive when confronted with their own privilege.

"It’s not that white people don’t face barriers," DiAngelo said. "What I’m saying is you have not faced this one [racism]. And not facing this one has helped you navigate your other ones."

After the clip went viral, Windsor responded on social media by saying her comments on the show were “incredibly insensitive.” But she also claimed that “a majority of the conversation was edited.”

“If a peer of mine wanted to discuss such a serious subject about the struggles we face, I would never follow it with a joke,” she wrote. “I have an immense amount of respect for my peers, and I know the struggle of diversity and inclusion in my business as well as in so many others, is not one to take lightly. I’m even more disappointed that my comments could lead anyone to believe that I have a prejudicial bias.”

Culpo, who appeared in the clip as well, defended Windsor and tweeted: “Please understand information can be taken out of context & misconstrued to manufacture drama.”

We’re still curious how Windsor’s words were taken out of context, but if Windsor had simply listened to her friends as they described their struggles with discrimination, perhaps there would have been nothing to “edit” and/or take out of context at all.

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