How did this happen, you ask?
Because of my mammoth Rolodex of high-up media personalities and my clout in the fashion world? No! Because of one person, Nadine Lerner, aka @bluedogzdesign on Twitter. I've never met Nadine - something I hope to rectify soon - but she sent the story to Christina Binkley, the style writer for the WSJ.
[Natalie Karneef] looks at the retailer’s commercial effort in stark terms with disturbing connotations, more as a rape-survivor-with-a-dragon-tattoo collection than cute affordable clothes aimed at style-conscious young people.
Karneef asks if the Swedish retailer has considered how rape survivors approach the task of dressing, ever-after second-guessing their own choices of skirt length and neckline.You can see the entire WSJY story here.
Because of this, H & M sent out a public response to my letter. It said:
We have read the open letter by Natalie Karnefwe [sic] apologize if she or anyone has been offended by the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo collection by Trish Summerville – this has not in any way been our intent. The collection is based on and inspired by the film and character Lisbeth Salander and though we think Lisbeth is a strong woman who stands up for her ideal, we are not trying to represent her specifically. Our goal is to rather offer a collection that we see in today’s trend picture that will appeal to many customers. We do not view this collection as provocative-it contains pieces that are staples in many people’s wardrobes: jeans, biker jackets and t-shirts. It’s all about how you wear them. We encourage our customers to find their own personal way to wear our products.
... which is pretty much the bullshit response you'd expect, but still. People tweeted, people Facebooked, people talked. Maybe some people will think twice before going in and dropping cash on an American flag t-shirt that looks like it's been run over by an 18-wheeler - not that that's the point.
The point is that we need to pay attention to mainstream messages about rape, and that one person - Nadine - made all the difference in this story reaching 100 people, vs. however many thousand read the WSJ website. And who read Fashionsta.com, who picked up the story, too, asking if the Dragon Tattoo collection trivializes the experience of rape survivors. And who read a site called The Tattooed Girl. My "resistance" was mentioned again in a new WSJ story that came out today, as the release date of the collection approaches. (H&M's words to live by: "We don't stand behind the violence or the harshness but the look is very cool.")
This post is for Nadine, and for you. No, we haven't changed the world. But maybe we've changed a few minds.
(photo of Nadine and her daughter courtesy of Bluedogzdesign.com)