Just over a month ago, Leandra Medine suddenly stepped down from her post as Managing Editor of the now-defunct online fashion blog Man Repeller. Her official resignation comes on June 10th, just two weeks following George Floyd's murder catalyzed nationwide protests against state-sponsored violence against Black and Brown people. As we all know, Leandra Medine had been warning us of the rampant racism that pervades our nation's social scene – including our fashion industry. On her blog, she had documented many examples of disgusting incidents she'd witnessed while traveling across the country… such as the horrific treatment of an Indian man by members of the hotel staff in front of a hotel; the anti-black and anti-Asian discrimination in the restaurant; and the rude, disparaging remarks directed at a disabled girl while she was waiting in line at a mall. Despite all this, Medine still managed to garner hundreds of readers for her Man Repeller updates everyday.
The reasons for her resignation were apparently related to the fact that it became difficult for her to maintain editorial control over her website. Apparently, her bosses at the online fashion blog had become unhappy with her posting controversial stories and demanding changes in tone and subject matter. It is not clear why Medine left, but on June 13th, she confirmed in a statement posted on the site that she was taking a leave of absence “effective immediately”. In addition to her departure, the statement also stated that she planned to launch a new jewelry line, which will be launched in September. A spokesperson for Leandra Medine has yet to give any indication when that new jewelry line will arrive.
So what exactly happened during the episode that lead to Leandra Medine's departure from Man Repeller? According to an article by critic Mike Sacks on The New York Times site, Medine went into a fit of depression after reading the critical response to her original article. She felt that the public scrutiny that had resulted from her article had depleted her of confidence. In fact, she said that she had started to think that she would not be able to pursue her dreams. When the public took to the piece of writing, she felt that people were attacking her and she felt that she had made mistakes that would make her a “scapegoat” in the eyes of those who should be supporting her. Consequently, she was “so mad that she just went on a rampage and announced she was quitting the Fashion Industry.”
Her remarks appear to place her in conflict with the entire Jewish community as well as with the broader public. Many people have accused her of anti-semitism for criticizing stereotypical images of Jewish men in jeans. In response to criticism of her statements by many Jewish bloggers, Leandra Medine issued a defense of her comments. She insisted that she was merely expressing her distaste for stereotypical representations of Jews in American pop culture.
In her statement, Leandra Medine identifies herself as a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of her former employer, a Catholic priest. Her description of her former boss, Father Alfredo Lopes, does not match the account found in the story about his abuse of leandra and her family. It appears that Leandra is merely using her story to criticize the Catholic Church in an effort to draw attention to the lack of sexual abuse prevention in the upper east side of Manhattan. It is interesting that this is the only portion of the story that Leandra is willing to share with the public.
While it may appear that Medine is participating in the online “troll wars” that characterize cyber-relationships, in fact she is engaging in a form of public speaking. She is making a point about how few people – especially women of power and influence – are willing to speak out against the abuse of cultural norms against women. Through her podcast, Leandra is providing an example of how the powerful can be driven by their baser instincts and still act in good faith. This makes her a target for those who would try to silence her and the women who work behind the scenes of high fashion.
The podcast episode in which Leandra and Abie co-hosted was highly entertaining. They brought in guest speakers from within the art world such as the designer and philanthropist Rihanna Knowles to discuss her book tour, her business interests, and what it was like to work with Beyonce. The two also spoke about the importance of representation. The segment ended with the realization that Abie Cohen had created a podcast episode that would no doubt continue to be shared through viral channels.
Leandra's story may be one that many women can learn from. The experience she has had in identifying the need to “break the glass ceiling” speaks volumes about the barriers that keep women from advancing in their chosen career. Although her story may not help those who wish to break into Hollywood, it will surely help those who are already there and want to expand their circle of influence. For those who would like to know more about this amazing story, visit the Omondi blog for future updates.