Leandra Medine Cohen is leaving her post at Man Repeller, the fashion blog she started a decade ago. The move comes following discrimination allegations and criticisms over a lack of diversity at the site.
On Wednesday night, Cohen posted a statement on Instagram: “Man Repeller was founded to celebrate self expression in all of its forms but it has become clear that I’ve failed to deliver on this mission. The team deserves a chance to show you what Man Repeller can be with me on the sidelines so I’m going to step back and let them show you.”
She is referring to the backlash she received after penning a lengthy blog post on June 1 as a response to anti-racism protests and the Black Lives Matter Movement where she committed to featuring underrepresented voices on the site and standing against racism.
Some Twitter users took to social media to suggest Cohen’s words ran counter to how she operates her site, pointing to news that a black employee was recently fired from Man Repeller.
“Hiring POC and bringing them into a workplace rooted in white supremacy norms is not helping. You need to reflect on your own complicit actions,” one user commented on the post. “Why have all your Black and POC staff left/been fired? How do you prioritize wealth over people? Based on your actions thus far, this isn’t commitment — it’s public relations.”
Another user wrote, “The lack of diversity amongst the staff is something that needs to be seriously addressed at the highest levels. Hiring (and potentially tokenizing) new staff is not enough. The entire culture of the company needs to be re-examined as you seem to lose POC staff and Queer staff at an astounding rate.”
Following the call-outs, Cohen then wrote another blog post last week, apologizing for her “insufficient explanation” on how she plans to change the way Man Repeller operates.
However, more backlash ensued, this time a former employee spoke out, describing Cohen’s apology as disgraceful.
“As a former POC employee that was let go during COVID-19, this ‘apology’ is a slap in the face,” Sabrina Santiago wrote. “I have not been reached out to in any capacity. I hope everyone sees that this is another performative attempt to cover racist actions.”
Cohen in turn replied in the comment section looking to continue the conversation.
“You were right — even though I’ve been able to write so intimately about every other experience of my life over the past decade, I’ve fallen short here,” Medine continued in her Wednesday post. “That’s because this is more than just an exploration of my feelings. It’s my ignorance. Ignorance is part of the problem. Separately, Man Repeller and I will be part of the solution.”
Man Repeller has not immediately replied to FN’s request to comment.