Dark Complected Models Forced to Apologize For Their "Blackness"!?

by madeleine.pepiot on September 10, 2015 - 5:04pm

            Julee Wilson wrote the article titled “Black Model Nykhor Paul Is ‘Tired Of Apologizing For [Her] Blackness’”, which was published on July 7th, 2015 on the Huffington Post.  This article discusses the recent open letter that was posted on Instagram, by Nykhor Paul, a 25-year-old Sudanese professional model.  Wilson explains that Nykhor Paul was outraged towards the makeup artists in the fashion industry for making her feel bad about her skin color, as well as for being unprepared and acting in an unprofessional manner.  Wilson goes on to mention that Paul questioned why she has been told multiple times before that she must bring her own makeup to her fashion shows, while her fellow light-skinned models do not have to do so.  Nykhor Paul is not only a model, but a well know human right activist who is tired of struggling in the fashion industry as a result of her skin color.  Wilson proceeds to inform the reader about another fashion model named Jourdan Dunn who also has been a victim of racism in the fashion industry.  Dunn once had a makeup artist on set refuse to do her makeup because of her skin tone.  Wilson concludes by saying racism is clearly still very present in the fashion industry and that she is very glad that Paul brought some light upon this pressing issue and that she hopes we will soon, no longer have to hear about disheartening stories like these.

            As this article brings to our attention, there is still discrimination and predigest against people of color in the fashion industry; much like every other industry in our society.  As more and more research is being done and presented to the public about the concept ‘race’, we now know that ‘races’ are an arbitrary thing that we, humans, have created for ourselves.  Yes, there are obvious physical differences between people from different regions of the world; however, as it is stated in the article “Human Races: Biological Reality or Cultural Delusion” by Darren Curnoe, it is genetically proven that there are such minuscule differences in the genes from one person to another, no matter which region of the world they come from.  Curnoe also states that countless genocides have occurred throughout our history to show the “superiority” of one race over another.  This sense of a “superior” race seems to be an issue in the fashion industry.  A strength of this article is that Wilson presents multiple cases where dark completed models have clearly been put at a disadvantage because of their complexion, reinforcing how common this issue is in the fashion industry.  However, if Wilson had presented specific statistics about how often models of different ethnicities are placed at a disadvantage it would have created a much stronger argument over all.  I agree with Nykhor Paul.  Her job is to model, not to go the extra mile of getting herself ready because a “professional” makeup artist does not know how to work with her skin tone.  No skin tone should be seen as more beautiful or common. Diversity is one of the most beautiful things that we possess on the planet.   I feel that if you are a makeup artist, you should be prepared to work with any complexion a client could possibly have.     


Work Cited:

Darren, C. (2014). Human Races: Biological Reality or Cultural Delusion?. Australasian Sciemce, 35(8), 36-38.

Wilson, J. (2015, July 7).  Black Model Nykhor Paul Is ‘Tired Of Apologizing For [Her] Blackness’. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/07/nykhor-paulwhite-people-fashion...               tired-apologizing-blackness_n_7744134.html


When I read the title of the response written by madeleine.pepiot, immediately I was intrigued, wanting to read the article and learn more about the story of Nykhor Paul. Before even reading the content of the response, it was kind of infuriating to see that an individual has to apologize for being who they are, especially if they were forced to do so. This really grabbed my attention and the title definitely persuaded me to see how exactly Nykhor confronted this situation. After reading the summary which was very well written, I would have to say that Nykhor Paul does make a great statement towards the fashion industry and although I am not very savvy when it comes to fashion and the way make-up artists interact with their models; the racist remarks protruding from the make-up artists is easily identifiable as an act of racism. I strongly believe that everyone deserves an opportunity in whatever they wish to become and that every individual deserves the same treatment as the other. If the light-skinned models can have people do their make-up without bringing their own kit then why can't Nyhkor have the same treatment? As mentioned earlier, I am not aware of how fashion shows work, but clearly there is a bias within the industry in which models with a lighter skin tone have an advantage over those who are darker. I would have to agree with Madeleine agreeing about Nykhor's actions. As models they should inspire people to embrace their own skin and who they are as a human being. That means culture, ethnicity, gender, religion are all apart of who Nykhor is as a model. The fashion industry should promote diversity instead of neglecting true beauty. To add on, is it really up to Nykhor to apologize for being a professional model or do they need to hire new make-up artists who want to truly help their models shine in the spotlight despite their differences in skin colour?

About the author