I realise that my posts usually focus on fairly light-hearted things. Shoes, jewellery, my inability to do a fishtail braid. However I have found myself thinking about the topic of this post for a while now and I would like to discuss it further.
The catwalk, for too long now, has been predominately white. Estimates vary but Jezebel calculated that 82.7 per cent of models were white in February’s New York Fashion Week. 9.1 percent were Asian, 6 per cent were black, 2 per cent were Latina and 0.2 per cent were categorised as other. According to reports on Sky News, 13 catwalk shows in New York featured ‘no model of a non-white ethnic background’.
Iman, Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison have now set up balancediversity.com where they simply state that it is ‘Time for Change’. The site shows the letters that The Coalition have sent out to the heads of the New York, London, Paris and Milan Fashion Councils respectively. These letters ‘name and shame’ the catwalk shows that did not feature models of colour. The Coalition states that they are not calling out anyone as being racist, but that the act of not casting models of colour is racist.
There is clearly an issue across the board. Agencies don’t put many models of different ethnic backgrounds on their books because many of them will not be booked for shows. Casting directors then will say that there were too few ethnic women to choose from for the shows and so on and so forth.
Several models have spoken out on this issue. Jourdan Dunn is one such model. Jourdan has spoken of being turned away by casting directors for being black, make up artists refusing to do her make up, or being turned away because shows had already reached their ‘quota’ of coloured women. Chanel Iman has spoken of the feeling of being totally discouraged by the attitudes of the industry.
I truly believe the only way to change the ideals of what is beautiful and what is not, is to continue to exert pressure on the fashion industry, just like The Coalition is doing. My opinion on the matter is that beauty knows no bounds. It knows no race, age, size or gender. Models should be selected for their talent, not because of the colour of their skin, their measurements in inches or the age on their birth certificate. For too long, the fashion industry has allowed these limited ideas of what is beautiful to dominate the catwalks, campaigns and covers of magazines. Enough is enough.