A Fashion Blogger Just Tried To Capitalise Off The Californian Wildfires For A Photo Op

A fashion blogger has just been called out for posting a photo that some argue insensitively takes advantage of the current Californian wildfires.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, what happened here in Australia earlier this year is, heartbreakingly, happening in the United States. According to The Conversation, as of the 15th of September, “there are 7,718 fires raging across California, 20 people have lost their lives and nearly 5000 buildings have been destroyed.” As a result of the fires, four cities on the West Coast of the United States—Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland—now have some of the worst air quality in big cities in the world with Portland at number one

While a handful of the fires were caused by a gender-reveal party gone wrong (ban em all, I say), a majority of the wildfires started because of climate change. As CNN reports, on the 7th of September, LA County recorded its hottest temperature ever—a scorching 49℃. Soon after, a tropical storm on the Pacific Ocean stirred a number of lightning storms on the coast, triggering small fires.   

And, just like in parts of Australia, San Francisco residents awoke one morning to the sky painted orange and dust particles and storm clouds in the air (sound familiar?). Which, as one fashion blogger figured, was the “perfect opportunity” for a photo opp. 

Five days ago, Californian resident and influencer Colette LeClair posted a photo of herself in an orange tulle organza gown. Behind her, the iconic China Beach and glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge poked out of the orange-tinted sky, smog and thick smoke that has left many struggling to breathe. 

And the worst bit, in the caption for the post, the fashion blogger didn’t even address the Californian wildfires, leaving many to criticise her online for capitalising off a crisis. Some influencers were previously called out for staging and posing for photos during the Black Lives Matter movement but not actually marching or showing up for Black people. 

In a now deleted tweet, per Yahoo, author Caroline Moss wrote, “WE LIVE IN HELL. This is an influencer who just posted a photo of clothing she’s selling by *posing in it* on the beach in San Francisco as forest fires rage around her.”

Shortly after the backlash, LeClair amended her caption so that it acknowledged the crisis happening around her. Even then, she has chosen to keep the post up and turn comments off. 

“And to clarify, I drove to the beach on my last night in town, and took photos, I love taking photos,” the new additions to the caption read. “I have taken photos for the last three years in this city. I love this city.”

“There have been fires going on for weeks in California. It is devastating. Prayers for people dealing with the fires. Sending you all love.”

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.