The Woes of Race in Fashion


screen_shot_20150709_at_6.01.48_pmIt has been a never-ending tale of racism, one to another, in the fashion industry. Sadly, from insensitive editorials to ridiculously whitewashing the runways blatantly. It has now gone beyond.

From the models themselves come the most telling accounts in the racially charged ways of the fashion and modeling industry. Vogue’s first black model on the cover, Beverly Johnson, has mentioned her sentiments way back in the 70’s. Unfortunately, it has continued on and stood the test of time. Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman have gone on interviews too on the hazards of being black models in the present times.

Anais Mali, an up and coming runway walker is echoing the same sentiments.

Hailing from South of France and was part of the Fall 2013 campaign of David Yuman, Mali claimed that no agency in Paris would want to take her up. She shared that she was told in Paris no black girls are allowed to model. She finds France very racist with not a lot of black in powerful positions. She describes the changes to have started but moves at a very slow speed.

She found her acceptance in New York at 18 years of age. She signed up with Wilhelmina.


  • Diversity

She said that she has felt the industry to be focusing more on diversity. Claiming that it’s still a long way to go. She observed that in Milan, there aren’t that many black girls on the ramp. She would often hear one black girl is enough. Though she is happy that she was getting good work, she wanted to see more black girls around.


  • Fed up

hcfuxbb0boo55x2cs8djNykhor Paul, another model of color, is fed up with the fashion world. She has made her sentiments very well known. Paul is a Sudanese model and she took to Instagram her disappointments through an open letter. She addressed it collectively to the fashion world’s white people pertaining mainly to the makeup artists. She said that these artists don’t know how to work with models who have complexions which are darker than most.

As the makeup people have a hard time matching the cosmetics with her skin tone, they end up trying to make Paul feel bad instead. The 25 year old model who has done shows for Calvin Klein and Rick Owens finds it unprofessional.

She is saying these artists are the ones who are unprepared in the first place. She was being asked to bring her own makeup when other girls, the white ones, don’t have to except show up for the sessions.


  • Not holding back

Screen-Shot-2015-10-14-at-11.33.14-AM-e1444847835411Paul is not one to hold back, as she is also known in the human rights front as an activist. Jourdan Dunn also dealt with a makeup artist who refused outright to work with her based on her skin color. Beverly Johnson had to arrive at her shoots with hair and foundation already done so she wouldn’t be under pressure from the makeup team.

Not much has changed over the course of time. It is necessary for black models to voice out their sentiments so they wouldn’t be given the ignorance decades long has been happening in the modeling industry.


  • A new girl next door

The neighborhoods have changed, that is Iman’s quick answer when people say there’s a new girl next door and they find her a beauty.

Iman had to struggle in New York back then and her parents weren’t too sure of her decision to become a fashion model. They weren’t happy.

She started in 1994 Iman Cosmetics. With years of not being able to find the right shades of foundation, she started her company. She made a cosmetics line for women of all color and not just specifying black women. She said that she wanted the Ibiza look, so she created a bronzer to get the sun kissed face everyday.


  • Women want the same things

She cited that all women want are the same things, to be fabulous while they are pursuing their own careers.

Iman was clear in stating, there is strength in numbers. Models need to stick together. She said ensure you bring something on the table and not just be a blank canvas.