“White Runway”


Iman. Just the name in itself is iconic. For those who don’t know who this is, Iman is one of, if not the, most famous IT girl of color. She graced the pages and runways of many illustrious designers for years and is still considered one of the top models of all time. She opened the door for black models to be able to join the fashion industry and strut down the runways. In her footsteps came Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Alec Wek, and Liya Kebede are among the most famous. It was like a new revolution in the fashion world, that wasn’t perfect and is progressively coming to an end.

Even though all these black models came into the scene they faced many problems with subtle racism and discrimination. Similar to what I mentioned in a earlier post, lighter skin, especially in the fashion industry is put on the pedestal of beauty. They tend to use more pale models, with European features like blonde hair and light colored eyes. It’s almost like there is a limit on the amount of black models that they use on runways.

Think of anytime that you have watched a up-scale fashion show for like Gucci or Christian Dior. Now think of how many Black women you saw come down the runway. Two? Maybe three? It’s becoming quite blatantly obvious that they would rather not use women of color, but for fear of lawsuits and such, they throw in just a couple to shut us up.

The Documentary “The Color of Beauty” can give you some insight into the issue:

The models I spoke of notice this too. Here is a quote from Naomi Campbell;

“This year, we have gone back all the way that we had advanced,” she says. “I don’t see any black woman, or of any other race, in big advertising campaigns.”

And one from Hathann Hardison, a former model;

“It’s heartbreaking for me now because the agents send the girls out there to castings and nobody wants to see them,” said Ms. Hardison, referring to black models. “And if they do, they’ll call afterward and say, ‘Well, you know, black girls do much better in Europe, or else black girls do much better in New York, or we already have our black girl.’”

The complete irony in this is black women in the United States spend more than $20 billion on apparel each year, according to estimates by TargetMarketNews.com. And yet they can’t advertise and put more black models on the runway? It’s absolutely backwards. This is incredulously discouraging to women of color who want to make it in the fashion industry. I mean honestly, beauty is beauty, regardless of skin tone or race. Is this the kind of set backs that we want to continue? I thought we were going in the right direction.

What seems to me is that the fashion industry is ass-backwards and prejudice. But in a fashionable way.

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6 Responses to “White Runway”

  1. Nick says:

    I agree with this. I feel like if black women are going to support and buy these products then they should be represented when displaying them. I think it goes back to the whole idea that society as a whole is more attractive to a white face than a black face, which is not right at all.

  2. Tre says:

    Sad, but true! I must admit first that I don’t watch a lot of fashion shows, or even attend them. Honestly, I don’t have to just to notice it. But, after reading this post, I took the time out to search “Gucci Fashion Shows” on youtube. And just like you said, its not a lot of Women of color in those particular shows. Maybe their aiming for a certain audience; Or maybe even the show director would rather prefer caucasian women instead of black, latin, chinese, or asian. Whatever the case may be, by me being a black man, I don’t like it. But there’s also nothing I can do about it except voice my opinion. So, therfore, I enjoyed reading the TRUTH about this particular issue. And hopefully someone notice what’s going on in the fashion “business”, because a lot of Women of color are taking it very personal! Nice paper, Tiara!

  3. caitruby says:

    This is such a true article! Its sad that a woman with beautiful dark skin cant have to same chance on the runway. And when they are featured, it seems they have short short hair, ultra dark skin and made to look like a ‘native’. Why cant these women just let their natural beauty shine? Its unfair for the fashion world to inpose such strict standards. They dont realize how it affects mainstream culture.

  4. ron morton says:

    Love this! Whats funny is i was just talkin to my sis the other day about this same topic on the beauty of black women and how its a sad look on how in the world we live today is so diversed and how some of the top models in the world are women of color but when you check out a runway show or magizens of models the women of color are so limited. Hand claps to this piece you wrote.

  5. Brian campbell says:

    I grew up seeing beautiful women of color in mags that where marketed to people of color. it was mostly apples to apples when scanning the ads admiring the best of ebony or essence fashion. I think there is the fear of losing the white fashion conscious on any stitch if clothing
    gracing a lithe black brown or yellow frame. Agencies seem to reduce the minorities to extremely freakish concept styles that may never translate to market form. Alas the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has apparently noticed and accomodated the black Brown and yellow male market with numerous models of color who may have never been given global exposure via
    typical fashion advertisement.
    clientele with numerous

  6. j0gilm01 says:

    This is a really great one T, commercials are always trying to change and edited colored people. Not even just colored though but white, Japanese, etc to make them perfect!

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