I love the fashion industry, which is one of the reasons why I decided to pursue modeling, and to style photoshoots. After attending multiple shoots and casting I was made aware of a fact that I didn’t fully understand. There’s an obsession with skin tone and the European standard of beauty as well as unrealistic body expectations. I remember reading and hearing about these issues when I was younger and in 2017 they’re still happening.
Black models are still used as tokens in advertising, runway shows and beauty campaigns. There are underlying tones of racism that some choose to ignore for the sake of keeping things the way they are. Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, and Tyson Beckford are superstars in the modeling and fashion industry but they are not the norm. I remember going to these major casting calls in South Florida and seeing majority of the models were white. Also, almost everyone involved in the selection process was white, and it seemed that no matter your talent level or how perfect your look was, I knew my chances were slim. I’ve heard designers say they’ve found one black girl and that they don’t need any more. Being a black model is challenging, shheeessshhh. You’re not competing with everyone there, you’re competing amongst yourselves. I understand that not every show or photoshoot has to be flooded with black models, but representation matters.
Now let’s talk about the fashion shows.
According to The Fashion Spot, “for the Fall 2016 season, we examined 312 shows and 8,727 model castings from New York, London, Paris and Milan. Less than 25 percent of the models cast were models of color. For all four cities combined, 75.25 percent of the models cast were white and 24.75 percent were models of color. This is a slight improvement from Spring 2016 which was 77.6 percent white and Fall 2015, which was 80 percent white”.
According to Essence Magazine, getting casted for the top runway shows isn’t the only challenge black models deal with. If they do become one of the few brown faces booked, they may encounter hairstylists and makeup artists who aren’t trained to work with kinkier hair textures or darker skin tones. As a professional hairstylist and makeup artist you should be trained to work with all ethnic groups.
My friends and family ask me why I’m not as active as I used to be as far as modeling. I still take on projects when something fun or interesting is brought to my attention but for most part I’ve slowed down. Outside of the issues of skin tone, hearing constant comments about my weight became irritating. It was frustrating hearing random people tell me to lose weight. Mind you I was about 120 at 5 feet 8. I worked out constantly and ate right, sort of, and kept my body toned. My agent wanted me to lose 10lbs because she said when I appeared a little curvy in my photos. I didn’t lose the weight. I was comfortable with my body and felt no reason to slim down even more! I am sorry but I wasn’t trying to disappear. I knew that there was a client out there that would appreciate my beauty and my 120-pound body.
Watch video below!
Even though there has been a slight gain, it’s clear the fashion industry has a long way to go on the road to equality
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