model londone myers filmed a secret video of hairstylists ignoring her afro
"I don't need special treatment from anyone. What I need is for hairstylists to learn how to do black hair."
Mike Marsland/BFC vía Getty Images
This article was originally published by i-D US.
Londone Myers has posed for Prada and scored an exclusive for Saint Laurent. The Georgia-born model is, you might say, recognisable. But when she arrived backstage at one Paris Fashion Week show, all the hairstylists saw was a short afro that they had no idea what to do with. Stylists not knowing how to do their jobs is alarming, but it's not exactly unheard of. In this case, the hair team chose to ignore Londone while tending to the white models.
Londone has now posted a video of that experience on her Instagram account. The time-lapse recording illustrates the troubling extent to which backstage racism still exists in fashion. "I don't need special treatment from anyone," she wrote in the caption. "What I need is for hairstylists to learn how to do black hair. I'm so tired of people avoiding doing my hair at shows. How dare you try to send me down the runway with a linty busted afro. We all know if you tried that on a white model you'd be #canceled." Tagging the post #noexcuse and #jesustaketehwheel, she warned other models of colour, "If it isn't my fro it'll probably be yours."
This isn't the first instance of models getting creative to call out unfair treatment. Last year British model Leomie Anderson — who has long been bringing attention to the backstage struggle of black models — filmed a "survival kit" video in the wake of Australian model Ajak Deng announcing her retirement from the industry because of ignorance she faced as a black model. Leomie explained that for black models "there's extra work, there's extra things involved".
Much attention is being given to runway diversity and even fashion's embrace of the natural hair movement. Lineisy Montero gave fashion a shove in the right direction when she walked Prada's fall/winter 15 runway with the only afro in a line of 40 slick ponytails. Maria Borges said her mentor Riccardo Tisci first convinced her to remove her extensions. But what's the point in hiring girls of colour if stylists are too scared to touch their hair?
"I encourage my powerful working women not only be brave and speak out against the mistreatment they face within the industry — but to also help out and support the newer generation," Londone wrote in a follow-up post. "There is more than enough room for more than one poc supermodel/ it girl at a time. We really need to take notes from the other poc who paved the way for us. I can't imagine what working would be like for us if Naomi, Tyra, Bethann, or even Iman were too scared about not getting shows to speak up. You were born without these shows and you will die without them. Do it for the girls after us and the ones looking up to us."