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Be My Slave

Herald Tribune:

923073_424936407602145_177729924_nDesigner Aamna Aqeel’s latest shoot titled “Be My Slave” falls squarely into this category. Obviously designed to shock, it shows a model being pandered to by a dark-skinned child slave. The images are repulsive with racist and colonialist overtones. The fact that the slave in the advertisements is a child, makes the images that much more inexcusable.

Aqeel has barely been designing for two years. She won some critical acclaim at the fifth edition of Fashion Pakistan Week held recently in Karachi, but she remains very much an emerging designer with a lot to prove. It seems that she’s decided, by hook or by crook, it’s time to get noticed.

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When contacted, Aqeel vehemently denied any racist angle to the shoot at all. According to her, the choice of a dark-skinned Baloch child was purely incidental. “He works in a garage and wanted some work,” she said. Obviously the parents of usual child models wouldn’t have agreed to the shoot. The pampered little cuties who advertise soap, toothpaste and biscuits on TV may not have looked right for the part but even if they had, no one would have let their child play such a degrading role.
Aqeel’s argument is that she wanted to spark a debate on child labour. She says she is involved with a children’s charity and wanted to highlight how ‘society madams’ employ child labour in their homes. She is educating and supporting the child used in the shoot — it seems the least she can do after exploiting him in this fashion.

[Editorial can be seen here]