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.