After a recent unpleasant interaction with a makeup artist who had no clue how to do makeup for women of color, Sudanese model Nykhor Paul took to Instagram to voice her frustrations.
Often times, she said she’d been asked to bring her own makeup because artists did not prepare or stock for women of color. What she didn’t know was that she’d wake up to a full debate on diversity in the fashion industry due to her post.
A portion of Paul’s Instagram read:
Dear white people in the fashion world!
Please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up WTF! Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup Forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more. A good makeup artist would come prepare and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously!…That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Town plus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones. Just because you only book a few of us doesn’t mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. I’m tired of complaining about not getting book as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racist it should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?
After posting, the message was spread around by fellow models, make up artists, industry professionals, designers and everyday individuals concerned about the lack of diversity in the industry.
In an interview with Style.com, Paul discussed her viral Instagram message, it’s impact and what she hopes to see change.
“I’ve been in this industry for a long time, so it wasn’t one thing that set it off. It’s been a constant battle. It’s not just the makeup; it’s not just black models not getting booked. Dealing with all the makeup issues, skin issues, hair issues, it makes you feel inadequate, especially when you’ve come to work geared up and ready to do your job as a mannequin. This is not just something I’m going through—a lot of girls are going through this,” said the well-respected model.
But it’s not always easy speaking up, because “you risk being labeled the angry black girl,” said Paul.
Not all designers are created equal and there have been many that celebrate Black models. Just a few days ago, we spoke on model Maria Borges who went natural after the urging from designer Riccardo Tisci. Paul says Vivienne Westwood is another designer that always looks at black models. But there’s a catch, while designers such as Westwood will look at black models there will often only be one black girl, one Asian girl and one mixed girl chosen out of 35 girls Paul noted of her experiences.
“…[It] isn’t about one runway or season, it’s really about consistently having a diverse group of models,” said the model turned activist.
Even though Paul has been around for a long time and is used to the nuances of the industry, she still expects real change to be made.
“I don’t know what the solution is, but I do feel people need to expand their idea of what black models can do. Black beauty can be Chanel, black beauty can be Dior, it can be Lancôme and all those things. Clients can have a narrow definition of beauty, but so can agencies. I was turned down like crazy by London agencies because they’re like, “Oh, we already have a dark girl like you.” Then I’d look it up and see that she was nothing like me at all. There is still the idea that if you have two dark girls, they are interchangeable. When you have a board of a hundred girls and only a handful are minorities, there is something wrong.”
Whether the solution comes as soon as we all hope, Paul is happy that her post has created “a healthy dialogue.”
“The issue isn’t new, but I’m hoping to see more change now. We’re in a time when people are more conscious and more aware of the realities,” she concluded.