This week, Blake Lively, a popular human with great hair who supposedly stars in movies sometimes, made the most interesting move of her career: she accidentally published pro-slavery propaganda in her online lifestyle magazine, Preserve. A spread entitled "The Allure of Antebellum" appeared in the magazine's fall issue, with a word salad that extolled the sartorial tastes of the (white) women of the Confederate South:
"The term Southern Belle came to fruition during the Antebellum period (prior to the Civil War), acknowledging women with an inherent social distinction who set the standards for style and appearance," the Preserve article states. "These women epitomized Southern hospitality with a cultivation of beauty and grace, but even more with a captivating and magnetic sensibility."
Some of the accompanying words make no sense:
"While at times depicted as coy, these belles of the ball, in actuality could command attention with the ease of a hummingbird relishing a pastoral bloom," the word salad at Preserve continues.
Preserve failed to realize that hummingbirds' lives aren't leisurely. They're in constant motion and eat more than their body weight in food each day.
But the bigger point here is that Lively and her team only wrote half the story in this article. Preserve is implicitly referring to the white women of the time, and is ignoring that many of these beacons of "beauty and grace" with "magnetic sensibility" were slave owners. While pointing to the fashion sense of the time and place and explaining where design aesthetic comes from is perfectly fine, assigning persona and romanticizing the slave owners strays into a sphere of ignorance and casual racism.