It’s no secret that black models have a tough time backstage. So-called professional hairstylists rarely understand how to style natural black hair and makeup artists are still sometimes woefully unprepared to work with black women. It’s a story we’ve heard time and again of black models having trouble at shoots and shows because the makeup artist doesn’t know what colors work with darker skin tones.
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. there’s so much options our there for dark skin tones today. 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! Make an effort at least! 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?
Nykhor Paul is fed up. The South Sudanese beauty took to Instagram to voice her frustration over the fact that in 2015, she still has to come to shows with her own makeup because makeup artists don’t have products to suit her skin tone. [edited for clarity] “Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black. It’s 2015 go to MAC, Bobbi Brown, Make Up For Ever, Iman Cosmetics, Black Opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more,” she wrote. “There’s so [many] options out there for dark skin tones today. A good makeup artist would come prepared and do their research before coming to work because often times you know what to expect, especially at a show!” Paul has worked for labels like Rosie Assoulin, John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Balenciaga and more, and appeared on the cover of ELLE South Africa’s May 2015 issue.
Granted, most of the models in the fashion industry are white or have fair skin, but that is no excuse. As a human being, you know that people come in different colors and though models tend to be white, it is possible that designers will use a model of color or two (or – gasp! — maybe even more) in their runway shows. To show up for a work assignment lacking the right tools is simply unprofessional, period. And as a makeup artist, it is your job to execute a vision. If you’re not prepared to do so, why even show up? And why make women of color pay for such unpreparedness?
Paul is certainly not the first black model to call out the industry for its willful ignorance of how to work with black skin and hair. Brandee Brown recounted to Refinery 29 the struggles she has backstage with her natural hair. “They started picking at my hair like little monkeys, lifting it up and examining it like it was out of this world,” she told them. As you can imagine, the end result was less than satisfactory. Jourdan Dunn told i-D that her mother had to tell her to bring her own makeup to shows “because if they don’t know what they are doing, you need to know what you are doing.” She’s even had to correct the work of makeup artists because they made her look too washed out. “I would sneak off to the bathroom and put my own stuff on,” she said.
“I’m tired of complaining about not getting book as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness,” Paul wrote. “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?”
Good question. The burden should not be put on black models to style themselves at shows. It’s up to the industry to make it a priority for makeup artists and hairstylists to know how to work with all types of skin and hair.