Not A Pink Girl

It’s a white white world for Vera Bradley (conclusion)

June 25, 2008
3 Comments

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?

 

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