Monday, January 09, 2017

Why didn't Simplicity Patterns just apologize?

Imma tell you right now that if you only come here for sewing flip out now. I'm getting ready to talk about something that is not all "happiness and sunshine" and recently happened in the sewing community.

Okay if you're still here - let's talk. This was posted on Simplicity's Facebook and Instagram pages this weekend.

UPDATE!!!: 
Simplicity has issued an apology on their Facebook page. Thanks to the Simplicity Team for listening to our objections and taking them seriously!  It is appreciated!



I'm sure if you don't see color or glanced at it quickly, you thought nothing of it. Or if you don't know anything about the movie "Hidden Figures" again it was just a post. However, let me give you a synopsis of the movie.

This is the "Hollywood Bio" of the movie ~
This is the untold story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA - Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson - who serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.

Here is the real tip ~
These women were smart and worked in mathematics and science when black women weren't encouraged to be more than maids. They fought to attend college, for positions that should have been theirs because of their knowledge and ability. They didn't have the right to vote. They couldn't go to the bathroom with white women because the bathrooms were segregated - one for white women and another in a different building for black women. They were considered lesser than just about everyone.  

They worked as human "computers" at NASA because white men thought it was a demeaning job when they could be engineers. BUT these women were the actual mathematicians behind the successful launch of the first space shuttle. Their knowledge of math and science figured out the necessary equations to make the trip around the earth work. 

Now the important thing ~ 
Did you know about these women before the movie came out?  Where you taught about this in school?  Did you know that John Glenn trusted "the little black girl" to make sure that he got home safely? If not, you will now understand the name of the movie, "Hidden Figures." So many contributions that People of Color have made to our American society have been shoved to the side, hidden and devalued. 

Look at the picture again...can you see the problem with this picture now?

Of course there was a lot of conversation surrounding the picture, more vicious on Facebook and more moderated on Instagram. When sewists asked Simplicity about the picture, it was removed from Instagram and the post on Facebook with the subsequent conversation was taken down.

Here's the point of my post. Yes the picture on both Facebook and Instagram was insensitive and a very poor marketing attempt of a pattern, but it shouldn't have been removed. Simplicity should have come out and said they made a mistake.  That sewists of color are important to them and that they would try harder in the future to be more inclusive. 

Instead, they HID the picture and tried to ignore the uproar.  If Dairy Queen can apologize for the racist rants of one of their owners or Chili's can apologize for a free meal that was denied to an African-American Veteran, then shouldn't Simplicity, as a corporate entity, apologize also?

More importantly, Simplicity missed an opportunity to talk to their customers white, black, and hispanic.  They missed the opportunity to really support this groundbreaking movie for ALL women. They are probably going to miss some dollars from a group of sewists who were perturbed by how the situation was handled...and they lost the respect of a segment of their community.  A community that's a niche market as it is.

If anyone from Simplicity reads this post, I highly suggest that you rethink your position on this issue. 

If you haven't heard about this movie, here's a clip and an interesting note. Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson) was not only a human computer at NASA but she sewed a large amount of her wardrobe.



I hope you will support this movie because it does celebrate one of our own, a sewist!

...as always more later!





132 comments:

  1. Thank you for your considered comment. To the marketing folks at Simplicity: there's a different way to advertise. It would seem that a broader look at things is in order.

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  2. Thank you for taking the time to post Carolyn. There is no question in my mind that Simplicity will read or have read your post. I will not purchase any Simplicity patterns until Simplicity address the situation. Thanks.

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  3. Definitely a teaching moment for groups that have been oblivious of the privileges that they've enjoyed which are/were denied to others. I will give Simplicity the benefits of dobut that they didn't mean to offend in both their original action & in taking down their social posts. But now that you have pointed out what they ought to do I do expect them to learn from this, apologise, correct their marketing / packaging photos if possible, help publicise the movie, & be more considerate & inclusive in the future.

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  4. Thanks for the heads up. The movie looks interesting. Too bad us Brits have to wait till Valentines to see the movie. Reminder in the calendar now! :-)

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    1. Not sure if you have access through your library, but the book is available digitally and is amazing. I'm currently listening to it during my commutes to work; and no, I had no idea these women existed.

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  5. Thank you for speaking up, another reason I read your blog. I loved the movie. My daughter and I went to see it as soon as it was released.

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  6. If you don't speak up, who will? THANK YOU for this insight!!!!!

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  7. Friday night, much to my kids' shock, I came home with PLANS! I had to go see this movie!

    As a BLACK woman, as a scientist, as someone who has been marginalized in my career right on up into current times, I had to see it.

    This movie brought tears and laughter...joy, anger, sadness...all that. At one point I thought I was going to have to leave. I was MAD. Big mad. And I knew I was in a theater surrounded by people who did not look like me and likely couldn't understand how deep these events were.

    In 1961 - 50ish years ago - in the lifetime of many people still living and breathing...Black folks were treated as less than nothing. The separate toilets, separate water fountains, being talked to like children. We're not talking about slavery and hundreds of years ago. We're talking about IN YOUR LIFETIME. In my parent's lifetime. Most of my coworkers are over 50...in their lifetime.

    Leaving the theater I went to get food and you know me, pulled up IG. I was angry. Too angry to comment thoroughly. Because once again, marginalization. And it continued when discourse began and they stayed silent.

    And the comments rolled in, "the movie is about women..."
    Nah. The movie is about BLACK women

    "I don't see color"
    Oh you don't? How convenient.

    "The pattern speaks to clothing during that time'
    Yeah, that was probably what they wanted to convey. And that would have been cool if the film was about the 60s in general...about fashion of that era...about some type of fashion icon in general. But. it. was. not.

    We are here. We exist. And we are Tired.

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    1. Total and complete co-sign.

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    2. I agree! This is such a brilliant film. I can't wait until Isabella is old enough to appreciate it. I think this will be the perfect push for little Black girls to head into STEMS.

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    3. ...add my name to this list, thank you so very much for bringing this to the forefront for some of us who may not have otherwise known what was going on! Come on Simplicity, let the sewing community know how much you care about us and/or our dollars!

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  8. I was just gobsmacked when I saw that (for the first time on here, I've not been online much this week) The Amazing Disappearing WOC!
    *sigh*
    I feel like 2016 has been the year of the disappointing White Woman who should know better, but perhaps that's more like "The last few years since forever."
    As an immigrant to the USA, I'm mostly keeping my mouth shut and learning as fast as I can. But this it absurd, and outrageous, and Simplicity should do more than try to cover up their mistake, they should listen, apologize, and do better.

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  9. I can't understand, nor do I want to understand this concept. Look around the world and people of all types are accepted and respected. This seems to be a problem only in America. Unacceptable. Great post!

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  10. Representation matters and it is not good that Simplicity and many other sewing pattern companies don't get that. I hope they read your post and make a formal apology. Most of all I hope that they realize the diverse sewing population needs representation in all ways.

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  11. Very interesting post. I can totally see how it happened, it's so easy to put a photo on social media without really thinking it through and obviously they wanted to jump on the bandwagon of the film. However their response in deleting the post(s)is so disappointing. It would have been a great opportunity to address head on the issue of improving their representation of women of colour in their models and illustrations. I really hope they engage with this issue again.

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  12. I have a Facebook friend who has taken multiple trips to the new Smithsonian museum of African American history with her mom and two aunts, a group she calls the Golden Girls. After each trip she posts photos of the Golden Girls in various displays, but what strikes me each time is the fact that 1- there is always some aspect of history represented that I had never even heard of and b- these women lived these events and are sharing their experiences with other visitors to the museum. I felt the same twinge of what the hell when I saw the commercials for the movie- how could these women who were so crucial to the program have been hidden from us for so many decades?

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  13. They just half-assed the entire situation. They used an old campaign and juxtaposed it with the movie. And gave no damns as to how whitewashed it was.

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  14. I took my daughter to see this movie yesterday. It was beautiful and horrible. However, it was a great thing to talk about after. How these women had to fight to get for what they wanted more than a man or a white woman, how truly segregated things were and not very long ago, how we as white females have a glass ceiling but black females have one made of brick, how it amazed us that we had no inkling that these amazing women even existed, how white privilege does exist, and how just portraying this movie as "girl power" undermines the fact that these were black women who blazed their way in a world where they were not welcome. I like to think we've come a long way from those days of separate drinking fountains and the back of the bus but as I look around I realize we really haven't, have we?


    I wasn't aware of the Simplicity issue but I thank you for pointing it out. I'm going to write them today.

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  15. Wow. I'd say what an error in judgement, but that implies a singular event. I hope Simplicity are currently preparing a better response than "withdraw in the hopes that no one noticed", because that doesn't wash.

    I hope this movie comes to the UK. I hadn't heard of it and would like to know more about this group of remarkable people.

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    1. UK release date is 17 Feb according to Google. Hope it gets wide release. Good sign that it knocked The Rogue One off #1 spot in the US the past weekend.

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  16. Honestly, I was and still am stunned by the ad and even more offended by the lack of response. I have so many thoughts I don't even know what to say but I do know all of a sudden, reading the responses to your posts has brought tears to my eyes. The repeated historical and contemporary marginalization of women of color but specifically Black Women is something we still deal with on a regular basis and frankly the handling of this has felt a bit like a punch in the face. My words are still tangled but I wanted to let you know I appreciate you for speaking up and yes, an apology is indeed in order. POST HASTE

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  17. I didn't see the ad, but definitely agree that Simplicity should say something about it and apologize. As I think about it, it seems that Simplicity should also think about the models they use for their patterns as - if I remember right - most all are white. McCall's does a better job of being inclusive.

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  18. Thank you for this very well stated blog post. I am planning to see the movie this week but that aside I think I will wait and see for Simplicity....I'll wait to see what they do before I purchase another pattern. In fact, I will be writing to them and hope for the best. By the way I do enjoy your blog so much. Thank you!

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  19. Thank you for this post. Since I am not on Instagram or Facebook it had completely passed me by. That was a really poor attempt at marketing on the part of Simplicity, and I, a white woman, will probably not be buying their patterns for a while. It looks like they completely missed the point of the movie with their ad.

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  20. Wow...now I have a real good reason NOT to buy Simplicity patterns - shame on them! I'm anxious to see the movie of unsung heros. Karen

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  21. I'll play devil's advocate. There was no way for Simplicity to get out of this one without making people mad. This was a huge screw-up. I barely see movies/ads and even I was aware Hidden Figures was about black history.

    But, by taking down the photo and not issuing an apology Simplicity keeps this discussion off their social media. Any other action will allow the discussion to continue and it'll turn nasty sooner or later. You can't discuss race in America without it going nasty right now. It stinks, but it is true. It would have cost Simplicity more costumers to allow that discussion to continue than to kill it.

    If people keep getting on them, they'll issue the apology "late" after everyone wears themselves out on other forums. Then they will pray everyone forgets it fast.

    Now, not that I need a qualification, but before anyone tosses "privilege" my way: I am not black but I do belong to a marginalize group. And this crap happens to us all the time. So I understand the anger.

    But Simplicity is a business, This screw-up doesn't mean they are going to host a race discussion on their social media.

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    1. Marie - I beg to differ. If they had just faced it head on, apologized and LET people be angry if they needed, it would have been better. I don't understand this attitude of we can't talk about race in America because it will get nasty. You know why it gets nasty because we don't allow people to talk about it. And it's not all going to be pleasant but dayum somebody should step up and show some courage! Someone should step up and say EVERYONE is important to us. Yes moderate the more vile comments but their site won't blow up. I know, because I let people talk all the time about their feelings here. We will never be a united country if we can't come to an understanding and TALK!

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    2. So true Carolyn. Racism will never go away unless it is out in the open and talked about. They didn't need to pull it down for the anger to go away. An apology would have been a lot more honest. Just because they took it down doesn't make it go away. Case in point, this blog and the post that I saw this morning from Renee.

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    3. It's too neat and tidy to say we can't discuss race "right now".

      When is a good time?

      Slavery ended in 1863. It took another 5-7 years to ratify the 14th and 15th amendments. But nearly 85 years later you still segregation and Jim Crow. Children being bombed on their way to school. People actively fighting to prevent blacks from voting.

      1954. 1964. 1965.

      21st century before we saw "firsts" in positions of power - Colin Powell in 2001. First black Oscar winners in 2002. First black president in 2008.

      Nothing changed until people got active and started having these discussions and making people UNCOMFORTABLE. To sit quietly is to affirm the status quo.

      Black people are TIRED of sitting by passively and quietly waiting for the masses to see and understand. It's 2017 and we still have to scream from the rooftops for a modicum of respect and acknowledgment.

      There's no devils advocate for this stuff anymore.

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    4. If we can't discuss race right now b/c it will get nasty, when do we get around to it? I'm tired of waiting.

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    5. Actually, the conversation has definitely continued on the Simplicity FB page, with several people posting the original offending photo in response to the inevitable "what is this all about?" The fact is, removing the post on their page does not remove the post--it is on its way to becoming a classic social media fail.

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    6. My point was not we aren't "allowed" to discuss race but that is it almost impossible to have a productive discuss about race because it explodes into talking about all the violence that is occurring around the nation. You are, of course, allowed to discuss whatever you like with whoever will have the discussion with you.

      Carolyn asked in her post (which I thought was wonderful) why Simplicity didn't just apologize. I attempted to give a reason for that decision. Simplicity is trying to control as much of the conversation as possible. They can now always say they removed the offending ad as soon as it was brought to their attention and issued an apology shortly thereafter.

      To keep the offending post and its discussion takes a vast amount of control out of Simplicity's hands. And had they not removed it they would not have been able to say they attempted to resolve the issue.

      No they can't put the genie back in the bottle. They will have to spend time in the penalty box. But for everyone who is upset they didn't handle this perfectly there is another person who is burnt-out on this discussion and doesn't want politics in their hobby.

      Simplicity it splitting the difference. They are attempting to handle a PR misstep which as much grace as possible and attempting to keep their product from being associated with one of the most contentious issues of the day.

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    7. Marie - thanks for coming back with a clarification of your point. I like that because it means we're conversating and discussing our points of view. I so appreciate that none of the nastiness on either side has showed out here today. Also, I have a better understanding of what you are saying. So thanks for the clarification.

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    8. Simplicity should definitely apologize and have an in depth interview with Taraji P. Henderson about the movie and sewing. These women are amazing. I'm glad they are getting some recognition.

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    9. I recently read White Rage, which is a difficult book but deserves to be more widely read. http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/white-rage-9781632864123/

      In college, an Asian American history textbook opened with the factoid that Chinese Americans are the second most often lynched group in US History. We share a kinship based upon violence done to us. The discrimination continues. There will never be a nice time for us to confront our nation's ugly past and present. But we must if we are to move forward.

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    10. Yes. @badmomgoodmom - Never a nice time. Well put.

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  22. I saw this! I was confused because the Simplicity pattern didn't appear to be represented in the movie promo shot, and I knew that Simplicity doesn't have a marketing tie-in with Hidden Figures. The race thing didn't even occur to me at all until reading your post.

    That's definitely an issue, as is trying to force a connection where there is none. If Simplicity had simply stayed in their lane, they wouldn't have gotten into trouble.

    But regarding the story behind the movie...all I can say is, I knew it! When I was a little girl, I suspected there had to be black women - like I was going to grow up to be - all over the place doing amazing things. But I had no proof. Singers (everyone from Billie Holliday to Whitney Houston) were great, but where were the women doing meaty things? Serious things? Great things? To say I am excited to see this movie is THE understatement of the century. I hope Hollywood did these women justice, but frankly I'm grateful to learn about them and hope to see more black women in the public sphere being celebrated for their awesome brains, skills, contributions, and tenacity in the face of constant adversity.

    I doubt Simplicity will apologize - their website is a clear indication of whether they listen to customers. I think it's more important, and better, that you wrote this post and are keeping the discussion going. Many thanks.

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  23. I missed the ad due to not sewing much lately and not wanting to be enticed to buy new patterns that I will never get to. I appreciate your post and response to this. Although, this is ridiculous and their handling of the situation is more ridiculous than the post/ad itself I have to say I am not surprised at all (which should also be ridiculous). I mean look around we are in 2017 and we are still arguing, fighting, complaining and begging for the common courtesy, respect and acknowledgement that "we" (women of color) have earned or rightly deserve. Even if they apologized now I aint buying it. Thanks again for the post and putting your thoughts for all of us to read and piggy back on.

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  24. I saw this too and was pretty shocked. Thanks for the great article. Rena

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  25. I don't follow Simplicity so I had no clue about the ad until I saw Renee's Instagram post this morning. I did know about these women before the movie came out, but certainly not until recently. Katherine Johnson is still alive and I saw the coverage of her Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House. I also read a wonderful column in the NY Times Op Ed page from the woman, I believe, who wrote the book that the movie is based on. It's an amazing story. But, to get back to Simplicity. They really blew it and an apology is certainly in order. They should not think that just taking the ad down is enough.

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  26. Yes, a mistake is a mistake - everyone makes them. How one handles a very public mistake can be a huge opportunity or a huge miss. This was a huge miss. I'm sure the person involved is mortified and just didn't handle it well, but it's not too late. Own up and initiate changes within the company so this doesn't happen again. I truly hope that **other** pattern companies take note and work on getting more diversity in representing all of their patterns, modern and retro.

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    1. Having worked in online marketing I know sometimes a brand's social media is handled by junior staff, the young ones who supposedly know social well. Problem is sometimes they may not have enough experience & maturity to handle big issues like race. To be generous I can imagine the person thought this movie will do well, maybe even admire it, so thought to help Simplicity catch the bandwagon by promoting period relevant patterns. Frequently there won't be separate budget to shoot new photos so they may just reuse existing photos. In the haste to be on trend they missed the painful irony of their hacked promo picture. Then not have the experience to know how to handle the situation gracefully they take the post down in the hope of stopping further damage. I can see how it can happen without malice. But both the person in charge of their social media as well as management should learn from the storm. Nowadays street photos & Instagram makes creating new images so much easier that they should make a bit more effort to create topic appropriate promotional images.

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    2. Yes, overflowingstash (geez, that could be my name), I think that's exactly what happened. Their social media is run by one person, I believe. And I doubt she has much influence on the inner workings of the company, but they should take note of this and do better in their advertising.

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    3. I heartily agree. That is how that sort of thing happens, and probably a LOT - not just Simplicity, but it's how institutional racism is continued. Little assumptions stacked on each other, not trying to see what other's see. So yeah, I can see how it happened, but still, when you put your foot in it, you need to stand up, say you're sorry, and state how and what you will do to keep it from happening again.No blame, no excuses.

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  27. Yes, Yes and Yes again. Interestingly enough, I did see the instagram post this past weekend. I glanced at it and said to myself, "well that's not right" and moved on. I think sometimes as African Americans we see things that we know aren't quite right, but we don't say anything and just move on. So with that, I thank you for not just moving on and for allowing me to take a second thought at this issue.

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    1. I think we are so accustomed to it that it's deep sigh and carry on. Because it's just "how it is".

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    2. And because you get to the point where you're so accustomed to the slights that you decide to pick your battles. Sewing is important to me so this was a battle worth fighting.

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  28. Wow...it hit me the moment I saw the ad, and I'm a middle aged White woman! I just saw the episode of "The Actor's Studio" featuring Viola Davis last night. Go watch it if you can, it's wrenching and wonderful. Simplicity blew it, for sure.

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    1. OOO, I Love their interviews. Thanks for the tip!

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  29. I left this as a comment on @missceliespants IG but will repost it here:
    I haven't see it yet. But I did meet an old white guy at an MIT alum event who told stories about working with #humancomputers to calculate rocket trajectories. He said that they pulled unemployed people off the street to take math tests. All the best human computers they found were women and/or black. I asked why. He said that any white men who were that smart would have already had jobs.

    So I have mixed feeling about the movie b/c I don't know how they will handle that part of the history. Also, I work in government sector supercomputing b/c of the history of women being overlooked by the commercial sector and being shunted into the gov't sector, where we used to outnumber the men. I wrote about it years ago on my blog. http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2007/08/gaia-girl-named-me-rockin-girl-blogger.html

    When I was a PhD student in theoretical/computational physics, I could go an entire day without speaking to another woman. I joined the Boulder chapter of ASG and discovered that 5 of the 12 members were current or former systems analysts/software engineers for IBM. I was in the physics department. Two other women were in applied math, one in telecommunications and the other in operations research.

    Sewing has always been my way to connect with other women in technical fields.

    Did you know that math departments, unlike other science departments, did not cap female admissions at 10-20%? They were as much as 50% women b/c there were jobs available to women as math teachers and human computers. The same goes for Chemistry. There were jobs waiting for us as Home Ec teachers or in industry. Nutrition science is very complicated biochemistry.

    I'm the next generation after the women in the movie. But I'm now teaching the next generation of students, the spiritual granddaughters of the women in the movie.

    My last visit to NYC was so rushed. We can talk more about women in STEM/sewing on my next visit.

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  30. I'm on my phone so I can't type a long comment but I want to thank you and add my voice to urge Simplicity to do the right thing and apologize. Also related to the horrible race issues still ongoing on this country and I fear about to take big backward steps on Jan 20- I urge everyone with Netflix to watch and learn from "13th."

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  31. Thank you for bringing this to our attention since not all of us are so well connected to social media. Hoping Simplicity and the other Big 3 think twice before promoting a new pattern so thoughtlessly. Giving credit where it is due and in this case with the black women who made this whole thing happen is LONG overdue! Bless you Carolyn!

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  32. Yep, I thought that's where you were going with the picture. Yes, it was insensitive and an awkward attempt at marketing and they certainly could have done better. Agree, an apology would be the courteous thing to do.
    Theresa in Tucson

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  33. That was a pretty big oversight on Simplicity's part; they used an existing photo from their files rather than take the time to find a more appropriate photo. They need to get one done and up ASAP.

    The movie doesn't really go into why the women were there doing the computung jobs; however it does a good job showing the indignities of segregation and the respect that the women earned by being competent and capable people and mathematicians.

    My husband, a NASA branch chief in aero-fluid physics at Marshall Space Flight Center, looked up some of the details because the timelines in the movie were so compressed. The validation of the landing coordinates that Kathryn Johnson does actually took more than 3 days to complete, two weeks before John Glenn's flight. Years ago, my office neighbor had a co-worker who had done some of the finite element analysis for the design of the Saturn V rocket (the one that took people to the moon). His portion was one fin - his calculations done by hand took up 3 3 inch notebooks. Those women did some serious, serious heavy lifting for the space program.

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  34. Where I live, it's all about devaluing Latino men, women, and children. I work for a government agency that blatantly supports managerial positions that choose to be racist and are supported in that decision. We have work to do. Still.

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  35. They just posted an apology on their fb page. I'm so glad. I was goi g there to post this article!! Very thoughtful and well written.

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    1. Amy - thanks for letting me know. I've read the statement and added my two cents to the conversation. I've also updated this post and am updating my IG post too!

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  36. Great post. I missed the original posts online. This is so disappointing to see. I agree that removing with no apology was the wrong way to go. I hope they take a step back and look at themselves. What are the racial demographics and climate there that allowed this to happen? Are no POC involved in marketing and promotion? Someone should have seen this and stopped it. Over here disgusted and shaking my head.

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  37. Thank you so much for posting about this, Carolyn! I had no idea about the movie or the hidden figures, or the simplicity's insensitive picture and their shameful behavior thereafter.

    I'm going to watch that movie. I belong to a non-white visible minority and yes, as KS_Sews posted, this marginalization still occurs today in 2017 and I have felt it too. What a shame!!!

    There will never be a better time to confront and address racism or marginalization than now. And yes! At every single occurrence.

    I read the pathetic apology Simplicity posted on their facebook page. I'm very disappointed in that company.

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  38. Thank you, Carolyn, for taking a stand on this issue, which I discovered by accident earlier today. Simplicity "apologized," but not really. There is still a very lively discussion going on there and all I can say is that the company needs some diversity training ASAP. Or something to open their eyes to the seriousness of their error, the proper way to apologize (hint: do not remove offending post), and the importance of diversity and inclusion in 2017. Talk about tone deaf!

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    1. I feel stupid acknowledging how limited I am with computers, especially in a post that is partly about brilliant female computers, but I inadvertently posted this originally as a "reply" instead of as a separate post. So I removed it, cleaned up a grammatical error, and posted again. See, Simplicity? It is possible to own an error and fix it.

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    2. AJW - I removed it. No worries, you did just fine! :)

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  39. Brava Carolyn! I'm on my feet, applauding your post. Well said!

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  40. Carolyn, thank you for posting about this. Simplicity needs to do the right thing. Apologize. Clearly. I look forward to learning more about these women. The depth of math that they needed to do is astounding. They need to be given an award - in public - for the world to understand this oversight in the history of manned space efforts.

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  41. I'm happy that Simplicity posted an apology. You made a difference.

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  42. Very well stated. This is 2016, and this is ridiculous behavior by Simplicity.

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  43. Wonderful to hear they apologized!

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    1. Oh hell. Never mind. It was a nice clean "nothing to see here folks".

      Sigh.

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    2. Keisha - they apologized. We can not dictate the manner in which it's done. They are contrite and we will see changes in how they advertise. Take the victory.

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  44. Excellent post! I saw it, shook my head and thought "is that the best they could do?" I'm glad they apologized, but I agree that something more needs to be done. If not for IG and blogs, etc. I would not know that so many women (and men) of color sew! I think they need to take note of who they serve (customers) and do better.

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  45. What a train wreck - and their apology is somewhat lacking ("brrrrr"?! Really?!). I'm particularly dismayed to see some of the comments under the apology. Such implicit and outward racism from so many people. I'm glad you brought this to their attention and hopefully they learn from their mistake.

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    1. Jenny - but I think that's Facebook and the times we live in. It's perfectly fine to pull out your phone or tablet and bash the hell out of someone. I read some of those "get over yourself" and "what's wrong with the fashion picture" and had to stop myself from snapping back too. But those conversations don't solve anything and they make alot of people want to run in the opposite direction. I'm sure it's also why the social media person for Simplicity thought they should take the post down. I'm glad that they apologized and there was a huge outcry not just my post that affected them.

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    2. I think you're right. But it makes me really sad. And I'm not sure people felt so emboldened to talk like that publicly until the recent election season.

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  46. Haven't seen the apology , but glad to hear they did the correct thing !

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  47. Go look at the Simplicity Facebook page. Their banner photo features all white models in vintage patterns. They still don't get it. Their words may claim to be an apology, but their actions are still blind to the problem. Actions speak louder than words...

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    1. Patricia - give them a minute. It probably took all dayum day to decide on what to say and then can you imagine their dismay when they got bashed again for their apology?!

      It's like your husband stopping off to get you some flowers on the way home for work and buying a beautiful bouquet forgetting that you're allergic to several of the flowers in the bouquet. He meant well and they did too. It's not something they have a lot of practice with and I'm sure the entire incident has spurred a lot of conversations there today.

      That is a good thing!

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    2. I think you are being extremely gracious, Carolyn. The company is tone deaf, as the original post and "apology" demonstrate. The hell of it is, their patterns work well for me but there is no way I can purchase Simplicity products now. Maybe economic push back--more than Facebook postings and letters--is the way to reach this company? I cannot believe we are having this discussion in 2017.

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    3. AJW - it's not just graciousness it's also reality. Simplicity mostly hires women and not just white women, so if we decide to boycott their product (note that I have asked no one to do that!) those women could lose their jobs.

      I'm just not for anyone losing their job right now - not with what's going on in our country. So maybe I am being gracious but believe me the powers at Simplicity heard our message today...and no one needs to lose their job especially not the social media person who I will admit was tone deaf.

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    4. You again are making very valid points, Carolyn. Still, I am angry about the clunky way this was handled. I want to again express deep appreciation to you for pointing it out, asking for a response, and using your platform to start this discussion. The year may be new but your impact on it has been phenomenal. Thank you.

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    5. Ok, I was patient a Carolyn suggested. They have changed nothing on their Facebook page. But they are not taking down the complaints any more, which is unusual. BTW, going to see the movie on Saturday. Can't wait.

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  48. A very nicely written and considered post. Thank you.

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  49. I have not read all the comments, but I read many. There is nothing I can say that has not already been said. So my comment is, "What she said."

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  50. I am glad that Simplicity apologized. I found out about these women via the trailer for the movie. It is such a shame that the contributions of people of color are pushed aside. I am very happy this movie is bringing these amazing women to the fore.

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  51. Women in science are marginalized. People of color in science are marginalized. Women of color are doubly shat upon if they choose science as a career. The Simplicity pattern company should have thought through the image they were posting before it ever hit the internet. I admit that at age 58 and a lifetime of proving my intelligence and justifying my choice of career as a scientist, I am simply exhausted from the fight. But tired or not we must continue to fight and force people to think about how they hurt women, hurt people of color and hurt society as a whole by not recognizing our contributions.

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  52. You eloquently state your, our, point of view. I am not a woman of color. I take many issues, pictures, and US history from a passive point of view. This election has electrified me and passivity is out. All of us need to admit when we are wrong. Apologize when we are insensitive. And, make amends by trying not to make the same mistake. Thank you! Not only are you my sewing hero you are a hero in every sense of the word.

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  53. Carolyn, Your post is very appropriate to the day. I would like to add a different perspective. I am 77, have been present at Civil Rights arguments for years. I am also a teacher, and I would like to make the point that most youngsters, from 0 to about 60 do not remember any of the things you are talking about, and some don't even know about the Civil War or WWs I and II. It is amazing what they don't know. So, the job of people like us is to keep reminding the young about history. It often is not deliberate, that they don't think like us. It may be that they were thinking they were being forward looking and inclusive. My second point is that regardless of the history of it, our job is to take up the fight from where it is now. There will be plenty to occupy us in the next few years!

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    1. Nancy: all of the love for this. And thank you, Carolyn, for bringing this conversation out!

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  54. This big old white girl loved that movie. I'm going over to read Simplicity's apologies but it's meaningless unless they left the comments there.

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  55. Carolyn, Thank you for speaking your mind about this poor choice and even poorer initial handling of the situation by the Simplicity pattern company. Along with using your platform to educate others about the story behind the movie Hidden Figures. I am a white woman, my daughter is married to a black man and they have a beautiful little girl. We try to be sensitive to race issues, to educate others and when necessary to use our privilege to speak out when we see injustice and misrepresentation. I will never be able to personally model for my granddaughter what it is to be a strong proud, competent, articulate woman of color. Fortunately she has her Mima to do that for her, along with women like you who will speak the truth in love and set that example. I can love her to bits and teach her to sew when the time comes that she's ready to learn and hopefully you and a village of women will be a part of building wisdom and knowledge, skill, pride and self acceptance into her live as she grows and learns.

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  56. Good for speaking out about this. It also drives me nuts that only white women knit.

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    1. Not really true. I know plenty of black women at the local senior center who knit and others my own age. But what is exclusionary is the extremely expensive yarn shops. Knitting has become a very expensive hobby, which leaves out many people. there is no bargain yarn that you would want to wear.

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    2. Patricia - I think Ruth McG was being sarcastic when she said that. We all know that black women knit!

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    3. Yes, I have asked my daughter who is a specialist in typography to create a font specifically defined as "Sarcastic". It would really help. I'd love to see the advertisers address this issue in many fiber arts.

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    4. Sorry. As you said, I can't see sarcastic!

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    5. A "sarcastic" font?! BRILLIANT!

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  57. Wow! Just Wow! I can't even. And I never would have known if you hadn't shown us because I didn't see the original posts. I have been anxiously awaiting this movie from the moment I first saw it advertised. In fact, my girlfriends and I have made plans since before Christmas to go see it together.

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  58. Carolyn, thank you for this post. I was totally unaware that this ad appeared, as I don't follow Simplicity patterns. I wouldn't have even been aware of the controversy if it weren't for this post that directed me to look for the rest of the pieces. Thank you for the education and the awareness of what was currently happening in our sewing and larger world around us. The world isn't all "happiness and sunshine" and I admire sewing posts that don't try to pretend that it is. Change comes (hopefully) when we're aware and are inspired to speak up and for that I thank you.

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  59. Thank you for bringing this up. I did not see the ad, either. It was such a disappointment. Simplicity made a truly unfortunate choice. Helenanne, one of my daughters is married to a black man with mixed children. We love them all. We just don't see color. These race issues make me sick because I know the heartache my grandchildren face and I can't do much to help stop it. Also like Helenanne, the other grandma is a very strong, dynamic woman so between the both of us and 2 wonderful parents, they'll grow into strong, open-minded, dynamic people who can help change the world too. As far as Simplicity goes, they would do well to feature more talented sewists like Vogue has and use more models of all colors like Mccalls.

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  60. I saw, I was shocked by the insensitivity, and i thank you for speaking up. Oh, and just in case my picture doesn't show, I happen to be white.

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  61. As we can't buy Simplicity patterns in our local big box fabric store, I do not follow them on FB or Instagram. I did not see what they put up. I did see advertising on TV for the movie and thought that these Afro American ladies were really brilliant ladies to do what others couldn't or wouldn't for NASA. I felt pride in that.
    Thank you Carolyn (and others)for speaking up and letting Simplicity know your feelings. I am also white and live in western Canada in a community that has a lot of ethnic culture. We do see some prejudice but not like you do in the US. Strong women like yourself will make a difference to all in attitudes towards others. Thank you for speaking out.

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  62. I missed the controversy, as I try to stay off FB and IG because they are such a time consuming rabbit holes for me. But from your post, it looks like Simplicity's consciousness has been raised and I look forward to them doing better in the future.

    Summer

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  63. Wow, I didn't see the Simplicity ad, but I sure do agree with your insights!!! I was shocked to learn about this buried Afro American fact!!!! We will see this movie and encourage everyone to take a young person with you to see it as well.1

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  64. I just looked at the Simplicity website, and I never noticed this until now, but other than Mimi G there are hardly any people of color modeling their patterns. Wow

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    1. Saw your post on the Simplicity website. Way to go Tee! Let's compare notes after we see the movie.

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  65. Well, I have managed to bury myself in my cave because I've been off much social media and have been sewing - and totally unaware of the controversy swirling around the online sewing community.
    Truly, I hate that it's still an issue. I hate that there are still remnants of racism in America. I don't buy many (any) Simplicity patterns, so my voice can't matter much to them, but I do hope that they've heard and really internalized what the sewing community has had to say.
    And it's.a movie I want to see!
    BTW, Sue Garman, an amazing quilt designer, a white woman, benefitted from the steps of her predecessors, the women this movie is about. Sue went on to become Deputy Cheif of Staff at NASA. She died yesterday at her home outside Houston. The world is a sadder place today.

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  66. I feel so lucky to be able to read all these replies to your post because it helps me to understand all the complexities of living in the US . Something that is hard for us "outsiders" in the rest of the world to understand especially at the moment. I am aware that white people do take their privelge for granted and are often lacking in Emapsthy for past and present insults and generally thoughtless attitudes toward the minorities in the world. I hope that Simplicity take this more seriously and step outside their bubble and see how thoughtless their stuff up was . They really do need to acknowledge it.

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  67. As ever, as always, you take a gracious tone to an ugly subject. I took the weekend off from reading social media, so I only saw the ad in your instagram post. I am still baffled what connection the boring Jiffy suit has to the amazing women in the movie. "Look, it's vintage!" ?? Hey, sell me a line of those patterns with a tie-in! I'll buy THAT. Their tone deaf response is just Big 2 (there's no real 4 and we know it) business as usual.

    I want to address something I read earlier today about the women's march. I know I am a white person and I haven't felt fear every day of my life. But I know what fear is, I've lost people to violence, I have children, and I know it's wrong to live in fear. It's really hard to make bridges these days, but we women people need to stick together. Black lives matter. And we all have to fight for that, but we can't do that from different sides of the road. We gotta stick together, and not let our fear and our history tear us apart. Together we're better.

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  68. Thank you Ms. Carolyn for posting this. I will make sure and see that movie. It is even more meaningful since I wrote John Glenn a letter congratulating him for his success, which is also their success. I received a letter back from John Glenn thanking me. I was just a German teenager at the time. I love your blog and read it often.

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  69. Thank you so much for posting this with grace and thoughtfulness.

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  70. Well said, and quite right for you and all other sewists to protest. I don't follow social media, and especially not "the big four", so your post is the first notice I had of this issue. Yes, a really silly choice of model. Someone was just not thinking. Hopefully this incident has been educational for many.

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  71. Thank you for posting this and my thanks to Bloglovin' for adding it into her must reads for the day. I am a quilter (sorry I hate sewing clothes) and so I never saw the Simplicity advertisement. If you had not written I may have never have known. Thank you for updating your posting that they have issued an apology I think to keep the productive discussion going it would be pertinent to show what the response was. I am grateful that Simplicity did not give some stupid knee jerk response. They took down the ad right away when the error was pointed out to them. Then they crafted a response (granted not the best response, but you have them thinking). Shifting a thought paradigm and revamping your advertising takes time. Let's see how the progress goes. I was slightly encouraged to see that not all of their ads are of skinny white girls, though that is the majority. I would hope to see more of that in the upcoming weeks and months. They will need to hire different models and the selections aren't always happening on a regular basis. I don't know where they are in their advertising cycle. Thank you once again- forgiving not only Simplicity food for thought, but for others as well.

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  72. I think this movie sounds fascinating!! And no, I had never heard of these women before this movie trailer came out. That's sad...their contribution should be celebrated. Right away I saw the picture and though, that's not right...who came up with that?? But that's typical for the big pattern companies, their models are slim white women. Every single time. It's not right.

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  73. Carolyn, please don't stop the blogs. I rarely comment, but I am always interested in the story behind the story, which you do so well.

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  74. As a white woman who graduated with a degree in math (in 1968!), I am thrilled that there is a movie about women who love and are good at math! That they can inform young people about the Jim Crow era makes this huge. I hope ALL little girls who love math see this movie and realize that a nerd can be a cool heroine! I worked for years as a software developer in Silicon Valley and that population is overwhelmingly white and Asian men. We were always desperate for good people - I can NEVER remember a racist comment about job candidates, we went to HBCUs recruiting computer science grads . If there is a cultural bias against going into science and technology among certain groups (Latinos, blacks, women) maybe this movie can help to change that. The other thing that I might mention is that women (my age) I know who were math majors all love to sew. It's a step by step process, just like a mathematical proof or a computer program.

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  75. Thank you for posting about this, Carolyn. I did not see it as well, but I saw their apology and I am awfully disappointed.

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  76. This whole post brought me to tears. I own that particular pattern and I bought it because it reminded me of the clothes my mother wore and the time when she worked as a hand sewer for a garment factory that made bridge market clothes in the late 60's. The stories she told me of how she and her fellow garment workers were sometimes treated by others who thought they were her betters taught me about prejudice in the workplace. Those associated with that ad at Simplicity just had the bubble they live in broken. Despite us living in an era of great and ever increasing economic inequality, which is one of the root causes of the bubbles people now live in, I do take comfort in knowing that there is thousands of like minded people out there who quickly come together to shut down an offensive ad. I hope Simplicity does more than issue an apology and fires the merchandising department workers behind that ad. As my old manager use to say you need a public hanging or two at work to change behaviour!

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  77. I saw this movie yesterday--it is fabulous. After viewing it, however, I have to conclude that no one at Simplicity saw it before attempting to cash in on the film's fashion trends by posting their tie-in on Facebook. The film's portrayal of these remarkable, brilliant women had many in the audience cheering at movie's end. It is definitely worth seeing for their story; and the fashions of the time are special. Fun to see how women dressed for work in the early '60s. The overall message of workplace racism and sexism is a powerful one.

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  78. I have been wanting to see this movie since I learned about it. I was planning on going with the kids on MLK day.

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  79. Thank you Carolyn for this post! Simplicity needs to apologize and make it right. It's amazing that some people don't want to believe that racism still exists in this country today. The problem is, is that we need to as a nation come to terms regarding the truth about slavery. I live in Texas and there is an ongoing battle to change the history books about slavery. The attitude of white privilege still passes from generation to generation. Yes, as a black woman I am tired of the backlash and the microagression that I personally experience day to day. I have learned to choose my battles. It is not worth it to argue with ignorant people. I going to see the movie tomorrow.

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  80. Carolyn, where did you find out that Katherine Johnson sewed her clothes? That is interesting. Of course, many more women sewed back then. And if you wanted something to wear to work that was comfortable and stylish, you had to sew. But I would like to learn more.

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    1. An interview with the costume designer stated that Katherine sewes the majority of her clothes.

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    2. In the book, there is a mention of Dorothy Vaughan sewing for herself and her 6 children. (Carolyn, if there is a link to that interview with the costume designed, I would like to see or her it. Thanks!)

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  81. OK, I tried to comment from work last week but could not due to lack of "name/url" option for commenters. Now let's see if I can remember what I wanted to say -

    1. Am I surprised? No, sadly not really. That people other than white women sew in the U.S. doesn't seem to occur to any of the Big 4 companies. Heavens knows the fashion runway shows find plenty of non-white models, what's with pattern companies? Do the models suddenly disappear when the shows are done?

    2. The simple pulling of the photo and luke warm half-arsed apology also doesn't surprise me. Good grief, how long have we been complaining about their website? At least 2 years? I don't use their web site AT ALL, I don't need that aggravation.

    3. History is taught from the white Christian male viewpoint. It's no surprise to me that very few know of this group of ladies that the movie is about. I'm not surprised I didn't know of them. How many know who the first self-made millionaire was? Madame C.J. Walker who was African-American. Who knows about the Tulsa race riot of 1921? No, it was not the African-Americans who went on a murderous rampage, it was whites upset about the success of the African-Americans. Very few knew about the Native American Code Talkers until that movie came out. There are so many stories still untold. And yet, there are people who fuss about specialized history courses in schools.

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  82. I'm sorry Simplicity made such a monumental mistake and dealt with it so poorly. I feel very strongly about racism. I left the facebook group of the curvy sewing collective because of it. I haven't seen anything about the movie yet (probably hasn't got to Australia yet) but look forward to it.

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  83. Great, I talked to someone who is in the know today, and I'm glad they understand how this was perceived.

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  84. Great piece of write-up. Loved it, life is all about sewing up loose ends

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