One of my first blog posts for BMag focused on the topic of kindness and today has brought the topic again to my mind.
I’m not going to say too much on the forces that drove Charlotte Dawson to end her life yesterday and add to what’s already been spoken about at great length, but to say kindness that has such important place in fashion, one that the industry is not treated to or credited with often enough.
Not only was I saddened by Charlotte Dawson’s suicide as many others are this weekend, but further to the outpouring of too-little-too-late support for the former model turned TV presenter I also read a disturbing note from a loved Brisbane label this morning that read as follows:
“On Friday a woman emailed us to tell us our label was ugly and unstylish and without taste. In our boutique we have had people say “go away” when greeted hello and others completely ignore us. People rant and whinge over customer service and yet this is how we are treated. On the other hand thank you to the lovelies that are super fabulous, we adore you! We are just doing our thing, so do yours and remember … Good Vibes Y’all, spread that instead!”
I see this kind of thing all the time and it’s disturbing to say the least. Creative people are sensitive, and what designers are trying to do is just express that creativity and hope it’s well received, not go out to turn people off with their taste or ostracise them because they target a market that might be different to others’.
Whether it’s a backlash to pushy sales assistants or a general degradation of manners in society in general, I can tell you it’s less common for sales and concierge desk staff to receive a warm greeting in return these days than a grunt or rude response. Of course I also see my share of rude, dismissive sales and wait staff in my travels but I’d love to think that as a general rule, if you’re greeted and treated with warmth and kindness, so too should you give that in return.
I’ve been fortunate and thankful enough over the past few years of my career and the rise of social media not to have received too much backlash and negative comments. There have been more than a couple of occasions of comments along the lines of ‘why does anyone care about fashion anyway?’, and more than a few criticising models that have featured in the publications I I’ve written for. One that comes to mind was a criticism from another woman about one model’s ‘chunky calves’, which I can assure you were anything but. On the other hand I can probably count on one hand the number of comments I’ve ever received in support of great sales staff readers have come across, models they admire (many of which are just lovely young girls who are modelling part time while they study at university) or Brisbane designers achieving great things through sustainable practice, local production, and great business acumen.
Nobody’s perfect, we all have our moments of impatience, but you don’t have to be an internet troll or a social media bully to have an unnecessarily negative impact on someone’s day. I’d love for all of us to take Charlotte Dawson’s death as a reminder to spread kindness not hate, to smile at a stranger every day and to support one another rather than tear each other down.
For support and information about suicide prevention, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.