After pictures of the fashion director of the Brazilian edition of Vogue surfaced showing that she had what many described as a slave-themed birthday party, Donata Meirelles has decided to resign from her post.
Meirelles was bashed on social media because of the pictures taken during her 50th birthday party that took place in Bahia, the Brazilian state with the largest black population.
For the event, Meirelles, a Caucasian woman, was sitting on a throne-like seat that is called "white wicker" that is viewed as "cadeira de sinhá," or seat for slave masters, according to BBC.
While on her throne, Meirelles is surrounded by four black women who are dressed in "traditional garb” that is being compared by white uniforms worn by house slaves.
The photos went viral and drew harsh criticism for her depictions of slavery.
One of Meirelles' loudest critics is Stephanie Ribeiro, the author of the #BlackGirlMagic column in the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire, who took to social media to say the following: “The black women were used as objects to create an exotic scene. It’s reminiscent of colonialism and romanticizes those times. She was recreating the image where whites are superior, and blacks are dehumanized.”
Elza Soares, a famous Brazilian singer, also called out Meirelles by stating: “Think about how much you can hurt people, their memories, the plight of their people, when you choose a theme to ‘spice up’ a happy moment in your life.”
Meirelles first tried to apologize and defend herself by saying that the chair was an "artifact from the Afro-Brazilian folk religion candomblé" and the white dress were part of a "traditional Bahian party attire."
The scandal grew louder forcing Vogue and Meirelles to part ways.
The fashion magazine said in a statement: “Vogue Brasil profoundly regrets what happened and hopes that the debate that has been generated serves as a learning experience.”
Many say that in a country where more half of the population (200 million) identify as black or mixed race, Vogue should hire more blacks to avoid mistakes like this one.
Some pointed to this little fact, Vogue’s Brazilian edition first black cover girl in 2011 -- 36 years after it was launched.