Store Apologizes After Customer Calls Out Its Bra Names For 'Covert Racism'

In the days of the important Black Lives Matter movement, many people are taking a closer look when it comes to issues of race and discrimination. With many important conversations coming to light about how individuals — particularly minorities — feel alienated in society, people are opening their eyes to see that sometimes racism is incurred without the offender even realizing it.

Implicit biases, stereotyping, and microaggressions are a real problem because often, majorities don't even understand that it is occurring right before their eyes.

Many companies have been targeted recently for items and products that are racially offensive.

Unsplash | Dylan Gillis

From shirt logos to product placements, many individuals are realizing that marketing teams sometimes overlook how much their products can push stereotypes further. This incognizance can make Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) feel alienated.

When people feel alienated, they are less likely to shop at that specific store.

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Sometimes, these issues can not only cause sales to drop, but many customers boycott brands altogether. No company wants that negative press and no customer wants to feel targeted by racially insensitive products.

Tesco recently responded after a mom called the company out for promoting "racially insensitive T-shirts" for kids.


The shirts that were on sale for children were based on the children's book, That's Not My Mermaid. However, the text next to the darker-skinned mermaid said, "Her hair is too fluffy," which the mom believed enforced the stigma associated with natural hair.

She quickly issued a statement about the t-shirt.

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Tesco opted to remove the t-shirt from store racks and stop selling it altogether. The company wanted to be sure that all customers felt welcome and accepted in their stores and through their clothing.

It's understandable why people feel angry and frustrated when they see these things happening in big companies.

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With entire teams in place to consider consumer marketing, one would think that these conversations would come up at conference tables and discussions. Sometimes, it's hurtful for people to see these things on store racks.

It also leaves people questioning how diverse the marketing teams are in these big companies.

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If there are diverse team members on marketing teams to consider all customers, one would think that they would understand things from all perspectives. However, this awareness is not always the case.

Now, another big brand is speaking out after a customer was offended by the names of their products.

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Marks & Spencer, a major retailer located in London, England, is under fire after a customer spoke out against how they decided to name some of the bras in their women's department.

Marks & Spencer is a big retail store in London that sells everything from clothing to home goods.

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The retailer is a big name brand in the United Kingdom, almost like Macy's in the United States. Their customer base, like many stores, is diverse in ethnicity and race.

Shopper Kusi Kimani noticed that the darker bras were named differently than the lighter ones.

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Kusi told The Mirror that many of the bras were named after nice sweets and desserts, which are extremely appealing to any shopper. But, when she saw the darker-colored bras, she was taken aback by the names.

This darker-colored bra was named "tobacco."

Marks & Spencer

In comparison to the bras that represented lighter skin tones, "tobacco" was the only name that had a negative connotation to it. What do you think about when you hear the word "tobacco"?

Kusi was curious why they chose that name in the first place.

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"Why not call it cocoa, caramel or chocolate – sweet dessert items? But they used tobacco. I was shocked when I saw it," she said.

Cocoa or caramel is a way better choice of name.

She was quick to remind people why naming the darker colored bra "tobacco" was so problematic.

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"Tobacco is referred to in society as bad, unhealthy, and highly likely to kill – ‘smoking kills,'" she said.

Kusi went on to explain that this was an instance of "covert racism."

"This is an example of how bias is ingrained into society and only helps fuel racism, be it overt or covert, however in this instance, this is a form of covert racism," she said.

M&S issued an apology and decided to pull the name from the bra and change it.

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"All of our product color names have been taken from a design color palette used across the industry, but we agree with Kusi," they said.

They also announced they would be changing the name.

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"We are changing the name of the bra color and are writing to Kusi to confirm that, and let her know that we’re sorry for not moving faster," the company said in a statement.

If you're wondering why Kusi felt so strongly about the name, she explained how it can impact young girls.

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“If a young girl who is already uncomfortable with the colour of her skin [sees it] she will be feeling even more alienated,” she said.

It makes sense that companies should consider all of their clients and customers before naming and producing products.

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If you're not thinking about everyone, you are not doing your job right. Every customer matters when you work for a company and even the small things can make a difference.

M&S did the right thing by changing the bra name.

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Although the company did not have any malicious intent when naming the bra, it's good that they listened to the customer and decided to change the product name. What do you think?

h/t: The Mirror

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