Women of Colour vs. The Beauty Industry – who’s winning the battle?
Nykhor Paul’s Instagram post probably made some so-called make-up ‘artists’ blush when she put them on blast a few days ago! The South Sudanese model has put race and make-up back on the catwalk in a post she put on her Instagram page: @nykhor
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 prepared 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 booked 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?
There isn’t much I can really add to this apart from, YES! Nykhor Paul sums up the frustrations of many women of colour (WoC) with vivid memories of scouring make-up counters for products that complement their shade but to no avail.
Within the mist of this ethnic beauty discourse, it’s important to remember that make-up does not make women beautiful. Confidence and embracing your own natural beauty is the foundation; make-up just enhances natural beauty (which is already present) and is fun to experiment with it.
I don’t wear make-up often but I do have those memories of walking into stores, seeing a shade and hoping it will compliment me. I’ve sat in the make-up chair (as you do) allowing the shop assistant to brush all over my face and then it comes…. that sinking feeling when the mirror is flipped around and I think; “this looks terrible”.
There has been an increase in brands catering for darker skin tones but due this frustration, I became numb to make-up adverts; experience has taught me that ‘I don’t really fit’ with many of these products.
However, one of my clearest memories of make-up advertising that made me actually walk into a shop and spend money without hesitation was as I strolled through Herald Square in NYC, and saw an advert for Maybelline with Jessica White. When Lupita Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme, a brand which had never even entered my mind (to use for myself) i thought “hmm that looks good on her, so it could look good on me too”…
Two years ago Jourdan Dunn, who earlier this year became the first black model (since Naomi Campbell in 2002) to have a solo cover on UK Vogue Magazine, spoke about how a make-up artist felt uncomfortable doing her make-up because she was black. Like any profession make-up artists should hone their craft, especially if working in the international fashion industry and should be prepared to work with all types of models. View the video below from 7:28 seconds:
Nykhor Paul’s condemnation is of make-up artists who are supposed to be at the top of their game, highlights the psychological hurdles black models face when going to fashion shoots, where they have to worry that a make-up artist will prefer not to work with them making them feel that there are ‘wrong’ in some way, where their white counterparts can just turn up, without that extra worry. It’s a psychological slap in the face for WoC who have to become adept researchers when buying make-up, otherwise left feeling like they are the problem, their skin is wrong because it doesn’t fit. Any woman can feel like this regardless of social status.
In a recent article by Reni Eddo-Lodge in Stylist Magazine, I came across the UK based website Brown Beauty Talk providing a platform where WoC can find, make-up tips, events and much more. Sites like this can be a saving grace, providing a space where WoC don’t have to apologise for the ‘inconvenience’ of the skin tone. In the same article, Stylist declared their beauty pledge, promising to work with modelling agencies to ensure that women who appear in the magazine have a variety of skin tones and hair textures. To do this, they want OUR help; by telling them how this can be achieved (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Just like Nykhor Paul and many women who have spoken out about this issue, the rest of us need to do the same, if we don’t nothing will change.
Even if the beauty industry starts to listen by adding more variety to their palettes, this ‘problem’ can become an opportunity for WoC to empower themselves:
Become the cosmetic scientist who develops beauty products…
Become the make-up artist who applies these beauty products…
Create the magazines and forums which discuss these beauty products…
Set up businesses that sell these beauty products, creating reasonable prices for the consumer…
One of the basic concepts of economics is supply and demand. When a product such as foundations for darker skin tones is scarce, but demand is high, the the price of that product will be high. This is why many WoC, complain about having to spend more money on premium brands who provide suitable products. If supply increases to meet demand over time, prices for the consumer will be more competitive.
It can be done.
Whether it’s foundation, blush, face powder, lipstick or eye shadow the demand has and always will be there so there is no excuse for darker skin tones to be ignored. The belief is that black goes with anything, but will the beauty industry ever fully embrace women of colour? Maybe black isn’t always in fashion afterall.
If you’ve been searching for the right shades for your skin tone then I would say YouTube should be your new best friend (if it isn’t already). Here are some beauty vloggers with tutorials for WoC, and there are lot more on YouTube:
Lizlizlive’s review starts at 1:10 seconds
Styles by Fash
An African aspect with a colourful perspective