Not A Pink Girl

It’s a white white world for Vera Bradley (conclusion) | June 25, 2008

I remember when I was a kid in the 1960s & 1970s & catalogs started to integrate. Every once in a while you’d see an African-American woman posing for Montgomery Ward. We had that catalog more than we had Sears, Roebuck, although we’d get that once every other year or so. It was really a big deal when this started happening.

It was by no means common though. It was really a big deal though when television sitcoms started to have African-American characters, like Julia (which I adored because she was so skinny & gorgeous) & The Jeffersons. There was also Clarence Williams III on The Mod Squad; Lloyd Haynes who played Pete Dixon, the history teacher on Room 222 (I went to Catholic school & was taught by nuns, so I was like, Golly, not only a male teacher, but a black male teacher! [& yes, I really did say Golly; my citified Philadelphia cousins used to call me Gomer Pyle]); not to mention all the sitcom spinoffs that followed.

In 1968, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act (Fair Housing Act) was passed.  This prohibited discrimination in housing-related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (single families, pregnant women), or handicap (disability). I remember when this happened because advertising changed.

It used to be that when you were looking at ads for apartments or houses for sale in the Evening Star (the DC-area newspaper back then) or the Washington Post, the cute little families pictured would all be white (you know, sort of like the families in the Vera Bradley catalog circa 2008). Now, when you look at these ads, families of color are depicted. It seems so silly that we would have to pass a law to get this to happen. You have to be pretty cloistered if you never see an ethnic face. Of course, in this area, most of the people in the service-related industries (restaurants for example) are immigrants.

Knowledge of how advertising has changed over the decades makes the Vera Bradley catalog even more weird to me. I don’t think companies spend money on advertising without doing serious market research & analysis. So the question is, did Vera Bradley – the person or the company – make a conscious decision to market her things only to affluent whites? Is she trying to make a statement (through subliminal messages) that rich white girls carry Vera Bradley purses?

The anomaly of this all-white advertising stuck out like a sore thumb to me. I wonder if anyone else noticed it?



  1. OMG! Your post was from 2008, and it’s now 2012. I too noticed immeditatley the absence/lack of women of color in Vera Bradley advertisements/catalogs. As a woman of color, I recently started purchasing items online from them. But then, they sent me a catalog, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I now have serious reservations about ordering anything else from them for this very reason. The’re not marketing to my kind.

    Comment by Ralree — April 18, 2012 @ 3:28 PM

    • I don’t get it. The only explanation I come up with is racism. I don’t ever want to jump to that conclusion, but it’s been so many years that Vera Bradley as a company has ignored women of color in their advertising, it just doesn’t seem like a mistake. The company is based in Indiana, which has a long & infamous history of anti-African-American activity. From Wikipedia: “the [Ku Klux] Klan would achieve its greatest political power not in any Southern state, but in Indiana.” I’m sorry you had to be affected by the shortsightedness of Barbara Bradley Baekgaard & Patricia R. Miller, the cofounders of the Vera Bradley company. They’ve been in existence for 30 years. You’d think they would’ve evolved by now.

      Comment by gypsy818 — April 26, 2012 @ 12:42 AM

  2. I was going to buy a coin purse there bc i was impulse buying. I stopped in my tracks bc something didnt feel right. Idk what… Anyway i always had doubts about buying quilted floral patterns bc to me it will make hispanics ppl who are tan look like they bought the bag from a mex street vendor. Designs just look to ethnic With ppl of color. Maybe thats y she doesnt advertise with drk ppl.?

    Comment by Observant mary — January 8, 2013 @ 3:39 PM

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