This post was originally published on Jan 24, 2014
Since its inception, Ready-to-Stare has been a brand rooted in my personal beliefs. I wanted to create a brand for the men and women who have been bullied for the way they look or the way they dress. My brand will always will be for those people. I found my own personal empowerment when I started to dress however the fuck I wanted. #ReadyToStareWokeUpLikeDis --- The Movement feels like an extension of what I was already doing as both a person and a designer.
When I started posting about #ReadyToStareWokeUpLikeDis, a friend brought to my attention that selling the R.Kelly earrings alongside sharing my own story of sexual assault seemed like a contradiction. Much like my feelings on the assault that happened to me, I was in denial when it came to R.Kelly's past with sexual exploitation. To be honest, I didn't know the details and I didn't want to. I liked his music and his overall over-the-top persona so I ignored and avoided anything related to his past.
But her comment made me realize that I couldn't ignore R.Kelly's past anymore if I was going to put my own past on display. Another friend brought my attention to this article in which Jessica Hopper interviews Sun-Times journalistic Jim DeRogatis about the reporting he did on R.Kelly's documented predation of teenage girls.
In the interview he states:
"Dozens of girls -- not one, not two, dozens -- with harrowing lawsuits. The videotapes -- and not just one videotape, numerous videotapes. And not Tommy Lee/Pam Anderson, Kardashian fun video. You watch the video for which he was indicted and there is the disembodied look of the rape victim. He orders her to call him Daddy. He urinates in her mouth and instructs her at great length on how to position herself to receive his "gift." It's a rape that you're watching. So we're not talking about rock star misbehavior, which men or women can do. We're talking about predatory behavior. Their lives were ruined. Read the lawsuits!"
I cannot say that I know exactly what these victims went through, but I do understand the fear, the feelings of worthlessness and the shame that these girls expressed in their interviews with DeRogatis.
Denial is a powerful thing -- if you let it be. Now that I know about R.Kelly's past, I feel continuing to sell these earrings would be just give these victims another reason to feel as if "no one gives a shit" -- a sentiment one of the victims expressed after Kelly was praised for his performance at Pitchfork.
These earrings are currently the top-selling item of all time in my store and I realize that no longer selling them will cause me to not only lose profit but may also alienate some of my supporters. But that's a risk I am more than willing to take; it's far more important to me as a fellow sexual assault survivor that I give a shit.