I think its interesting how the majority of the world is non-caucasian, yet media and industry still harps on and reinforces the European standards of beauty, making it impossible for those who do not meet those standards to feel included.
Its almost an insult for the fashion industry to presume that by having that one latina or asian or black model walk down the runway, it satisfies the minorities who are watching or studying fashion. Honestly, this couldn’t be more untrue.
In “Racial Diversity on the Runway,” Demi Sinclair tries to find out the reasons for the lack of diversity and honestly, I think they’re all bullshit. Some of the reasons include body specificity based on race, a need for a designer to have their ideal beauty and, my personal favorite, ethnicity=personality.
Okay, lets just get one thing straight. There is a certain body type that one may commonly see in respects to one race rather than the other, but I have seen curvy Asian girls and stick thin black girls. I’ve seen boyish latinas and voluptuous white chicks so the excuse that some of the models (women who’s jobs it is to look a certain way) don’t fit into that spectrum because of their race is bullshit.
Secondly, designers, its nice that you have a lily white outlook on how pretty things should be, but in an industry that is heavily dependent on consumerism, don’t you think it’d be nice to, I don’t know appeal to as many consumers as possible? (i.e. hire models that aren’t white). Calvin Klein hasn’t used a black model in a while and that baffles me considering he dresses Kerry Washington and Zoe Saldana (however Saldana’s ignorant comments on race is an entirely different post.) So why is it that his vision can call for them to wear his clothes down a red carpet but not a host of black chicks down the runway? I call bullshit.
Lastly, Sinclair found that one of the reasons casting directors don’t hire women of color is because the designer might be trying to get away from the supermodel aspect of the industry that was created in the 90s. This is just the most bullshit of all the bullshits. Like its moreso fuckery than bullshit. Having a certain skin-tone does not make you more or less interesting. Believe me, I have a latina friend who is anything but spicy. I’ve met black chicks who are as quiet as mice, and not all white girls are sticks in the mud.
Plus, am I wrong when I say that Cara Delevingne could single handedly sell Burberry vis-a-vis her Vine and Instagram? As the top up-and-coming model (modern day Kate Moss to many), Delevingne makes it a point to have a personality. So much so that she has Tumblr blogs dedicated to her and anyone who picks up a magazine knows her fucking name. Yet Jourdan Dunn, a black model who is just as present on the runways (she was in just about every show with Delevingne during British fashion week), has way less coverage because she has way less personality.
I am neither Alek Wek nor Jourdan Dunn. Not every Brazilian looks like Gisele Bundchen. The fashion industry makes it a point to highlight different takes on eurocentricity, making it easier for my caucasian friends to find inspiration in Cara Delevinigne, Kate Upton or Karlie Kloss, but what about the majority of women who are not pale skinned, and light eyed?
Beyonce and Kerry Washington, while African American still adhere to certain aspects of the European aesthetic and generational plight of colorism within America, and to be quite honest I’m tired of seeing the same women of color, whether celebrities or models, gracing the covers of magazines and projecting a rather close-minded idea on diversity when Editors-In-Chief have no problem finding white models that are on opposite sides of the spectrum and in between when it comes to their look.
These periodical celebrations of curves and color? They need to be canceled out in favor of including them in the spreads that would normally lack minorities. Instead of wasting time and money appealing to a group in one issue of a magazine, or one runway show, the industry needs to come to the realization that women of color wear clothes, too. We read W and Vogue, not just Essence and Ebony. We value a great Calvin Klein pump or Burberry coat just as much as the next white girl, but we want to see people WHO LOOK LIKE US in the spreads.
How is creating a place for inspiration reserved solely for the patriarchal white society that still rules American consumerism and the fashion industry? Why can’t women of color enjoy the escapism that comes with playing dress-up, too? By not including us in your everyday thought and creation process, you’re telling billions of women of color that they don’t matter. That we warrant only a months worth of your time. But we do, and the world just needs to understand that hiring a black, Asian or latino model to be in a spread that is NOT defined by “Carnival Vacation” or “Black is Beautiful” would not bring down the house that Anna built, but potentially turn it into a monument.