BLACK MODELS DON’T HAVE A CHANCE UNLESS WE CREATE THAT CHANCE FOR THEM. LET US STOP COMPLAINING AND SUPPORT EVERY FASHION WEEK IN AFRICA OR IN THE DIASPORA.
Firstly, we complain too much. Why don’t we try and fix things, period? I am an advocate of ‘do your own thing, create your own world and do it right’. We are the same people responsible for overlooking black models to put our own designs on European models. We must support all African fashion weeks across the globe, so that we can have the requisite funds to pay black models sufficiently. This in turn gives them the empowerment, visibility and the recognition that they not only need, but deserve.
There are small steps that be taken to solve a bigger problem, however. When African companies begin to support their own, issues like this will become a thing of the past. When African designers begin to hire more black models for their clothing, issues like this will become a thing of the past. When the media does its part not portray anything fair in complexion as the epitome of beauty, then issues like this will become a thing of the past. Look at all the Fashion Weeks that have taken place this season; all the black models doing the shows were same – from NYFW, to MFW and across the pond to LFW. It does not leave much room for progression and expansion in the industry. I leave you with photos from past Fashion Weeks where the presence of black and ethnic models is limited.
Young Black models are often being overlooked in today’s fashion world. Sure we have phenomenal African American models that have ascended to stardom, but the Naomi’s and Tyra’s are few and far between when compared to their white and European counterparts.
A recent photo shoot for an editorial in “Numero” magazine entitled “African Queen” featured a 16-year-old Caucasian girl, Ondria Hardin, in heavy bronzing makeup portraying the “African Queen”. People have expressed their outrage, and quite it’s easy to understand why. With all of the black models in the world that are trying to make it in modeling, why would the magazine choose to darken a Caucasian girl (harkening back to the days of Black Face) as opposed to hiring a model of African-descent? The company that the model worked for had a pool of black models, but in far fewer numbers than whites. Regardless, the lack of tact on their part is alarming, even more than the underemployment of said black models in their stable.
It’s a sad day in the world when they won’t consider black models to be the focus of black-oriented features and magazine spreads. One commenter on the website Jezebel.com had this to say about it, “Can I just say as a young black model (I’m a girl) having worked my a*s for the past 3 years, this hurts my soul. I’m happy for Ondria as a person but the amount of times I have been told “oh sorry we already have a black girl that looks like you” or “most of our clients dont hire black girls, sorry” and then I see THIS, it p****s me off ! There are so many beauitful black models out there working TWICE as half(sic) for barely half the recognition and the only time they give a s**t about us is when they need our dark skin for some “ethnic” photo shoot and in this case with Ondria, they couldn’t even be bothered. Can I see a black girl do SCANDANAVIAN PRINCESS please? Hmmm?”. These are my sentiments as well. Hire more black models, support black designers and the African Fashion Weeks constructed to empower black and African people in the fashion industry.
Some food for thought.
|Shena Sally Lapointe|