Speak Up: We say no to Sarah's Day

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The popular YouTuber, Sarah Stevenson otherwise known as Sarah’s Day, was supposed to launch a clothing collection in collaboration with White Fox on June 2, 2020 titled ‘Reboot.’ The collection has been heavily criticized and she has been accused of appropriating Black culture by wearing Afro-hairstyles, including cornrowed braids with colourful extensions. These accusations were brought to her attention by countless people on her Facebook group, Instagram page and forums. She systematically deleted almost all of the comments and ignored the issue until the publicity, and likely a push from her sponsor White Fox, led to somewhat of a public apology on her Instagram story. In it, she said that the campaign would be reshot and that those videos and images would not be used. As of May 29th, the date of this letter, the images are still up on her Instagram story and she has backtracked on her apology, saying that she does not understand how people could be offended and a day later also referring to all those who complained as ‘crazy, actually crazy,’ ‘the 1 percent’ and as hate-mongerers who hurl death threats towards children. Her solution: ‘don’t follow me’ / ‘don’t watch me.’ This effort to demean, belittle and degrade people who raise concerns about cultural appropriation and racism deeply concerns us. Her rhetoric is targeting marginalized and racialized groups, and the silence of her sponsors is deafening.

While the appropriation of disadvantage and minority cultures is in itself problematic, this flippant and dismissive attitude towards the concerns of racialized people is particularly noticeable in today’s climate. At the same time that Sarah uploads her videos about those racial minorities that she perceives as incapable of rationality and love, racialized people are being murdered for the colour of their skin. We all saw the video of the killing of George Floyd this week, and the subsequent marches. In many ways, her silencing and censorship of minority voices, weaponization of her fan base and dismissal of racialized peoples is a symptom of societal narratives that make it heard for us to breathe.

This is not the first time that Sarah’s platform has been the subject of controversy, and spread misinformation to the detriment of her young followers. In late 2019, Sarah sought to financially benefit from the devastation of the Australian bushfires. She announced that $1 from every one of her products sold on La’Bang Body would go towards the appeal effort, calling it a ‘fun way to get involved.’ More recently, she has been called out for ignoring and dismissing the impact of COVID-19 and the related restriction measures. Aside from this, she has been criticized for promoting dangerous and disordered eating patterns, which are best exemplified by her experience with amenorrhea and the host of medical issues that she has documented on her YouTube page. She was also called out for branding her glasses as ‘Summer Gypsy Sunglasses’ and promoting sexist tropes such as the desirability of a wife’s domesticity, coining herself a ‘domestic princess.’ Her clothing lines have been accused of stealing the artistic works of other designers, brands and content creators under the guise of ‘inspiration.’ Many have also raised concerns about the lack of inclusion and diversity in her campaigns. These controversies are only some of those that have been documented and discussed on social media and online forums. Her constant censorship by way of deleting comments, blocking fans, and weaponizing her fan base has created a hostile environment for young women, especially those who are marginalized or racialized.  

This pattern of behaviour has gone on for too long.  

We urge you to end your partnership with Sarah’s Day, and send a clear message that your company values diversity, and a safe space for all.