Despite being celebrities with extremely high popularity and successful businesses, many high-profile figures such as Kylie Jenner and Cardi B are, in fact, underpaying their workers— the majority of which are women of color working in substandard conditions. In the past few months, Remake, a non-profit organization against exploitation in the fashion industry, exposed Kylie Jenner and other celebrities for not paying their factory workers in Bangladesh and Los Angeles for the work they had completed in February and March.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has left POC particularly vulnerable. The pandemic resulted in the Global Brand Group (GBG), the company in charge of Kylie’s and Cardi’s brands, cancelling orders and firing workers. However, these workers had done their jobs and were not paid for it. Furthermore, the workers are working in unfavorable conditions where they are already underpaid for the amount of work they do.
Their work has led to harmful effects on their health (like suffering from headaches) yet they receive minimum wage despite working for almost 12 hours a day. The workers are also too often women of color who work strenuously long hours to feed their families.
GBG has defended claims by stating that they had no choice but to cancel orders and fire workers because of the pandemic. Considering Kylie’s and Cardi’s net worth, this is simply not an excuse to underpay workers. Not only has GBG stated defensive claims, Kylie has been deleting comments on her recent social media posts that relate to this situation as well. People have also accused her of practicing performative activism when they saw her post content about the BLM movement but refused to pay her POC workers.
Asian laborers and other POC garment workers are underpaid even though they are the very people who stiffen the bedrock of the celebrity’s success. This situation resulted in the #PayUp campaign that exposed multi-million dollar brands for their exploitation of workers in garment factories around the world. A petition has also collected hundreds of thousands of signatures. Most of the POC population has been pressed down for nearly as long as one can remember. We must participate in change like these to fight the unspoken injustices.