leomie anderson calls attention to the backstage struggle of black models
"Why can a white model confidently sit in anyone's chair and feel confident they'll look okay but black models have to worry?"
The ongoing struggle for diversity on the runway is well documented. But earning a place on the runway is only half the struggle for models of color. Once backstage they frequently have to deal with make-up artists and hairstylists who are often wholly ill-equipped to work with darker skin and natural hair.
Yesterday Leomie Anderson, a Victoria's Secret model who has this season walked for Sophie Theallet, Jeremy Scott, Maiyet, and Reem Acra, became the latest in a string of high-profile models to call to attention this pervasive phenomenon. Anderson was backstage at a New York Fashion Week show when she was handed off to a makeup artist who, shocker, had only pale foundations. In other words, an incomplete makeup kit.
"Why is it that the black makeup artists are busy with blonde white girls and slaying their makeup and I have to supply my own foundation," Anderson tweeted. "Why is there more white makeup artists backstage than black when when black ones can do ALL races makeup?? Why can a white model confidentially sit in anyone's chair and feel confident they'll look okay but black models have to worry?"
Anderson even tweeted bleak photo evidence of the twelve different light-toned foundation shades and one darker one that the makeup artist had thought sufficient to get her through the day. Fellow model Lameka Fox chimed in to document her own struggle, tweeting "Preach! when I have my hair done at shows it takes 2-4 & I'm not fully black & I have a keratin treatment it's ridiculous."
Anderson's rant is depressingly similar to that of South Sudanese beauty Nykhor Paul, who last year put the industry on blast in a powerful Instagram post. "Just because you only book a few of us doesn't mean you have the right to make us look ratchet," she wrote. "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?"
Jourdan Dunn has also called out industry racism by condemning the phenomenon of applauding designers when they cast one woman of color. Then of course there's the ongoing endeavor of Bethann Hardison via her Balance Diversity campaign. Evidently it's not just designers who need a refresher course on inclusivity.
Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Instagram