Sudanese Fashion model Nykhor Paul recently took to social media to share her frustration with White makeup artists who fail to come prepared with the right makeup for her skin type during runway shows. Honestly, I was quite surprised to see and read her message.
When I began modeling over two decades ago, I too went through every experience Nykhor shares in her message below, knew and know many Black models who did too.
I recall having to always buy my own foundation to bring to shows. I also recall most of the White makeup artists I dealt with just freezing when it was time to do my makeup. They would panic and ask whether I brought my foundation. It was when they saw my foundation, which used to be mostly Iman or M.A.C, that they breathed a big sigh of relief. My experience was not limited to runway shows. In local beauty stores where big cosmetic giants retailed their products, no one ever seemed to have foundation for my skin tone. It was a very frustrating experience, especially since it came with a certain awkwardness on the part of these artists that resulted in making me feel that them doing my makeup, as a Black girl, was just too burdensome and that I was not welcomed.
To be fair, even Black makeup artists I dealt with at the time also had an issue with getting makeup done right for my face and that of other Black models I observed. Many weren’t trained to work with Black faces and they were also limited with the necessary tools i.e. the right foundation or color matching to get the right results on the faces of Black models. The only difference was that they had empathy because they had shared experiences of not having foundation colors that worked on their dark skin tones.
However, fast forward to the last ten years or less, it is hard for me to meet make up artists, White makeup artists, who do not come prepared with diverse makeup foundations for Black models at runway shows. This makes sense given the beauty industry has changed for the better, in this regard. Indeed, whether I am acting in a journalistic capacity observing and reporting fashion stories, or jumping on the runway, I find many White makeup artists that I meet do makeup quite well on the faces of Black models, sometimes better than even some of the Black makeup artists I meet; and we Black models do not have to bring our foundations.
Again, today, most major beauty companies now have beauty/makeup lines that cater to women of color (Blacks included); and also routinely train their employees to know how to properly match foundations for women of color.
Yes, there will be a few that come unprepared, but it is more in my view, their lack of professionalism than anything else. So, again, I was surprised to read Nykhor’s frustration.
For Ladybrille Black models reading this, what has been your experience?
Nykhor’s Open Letter/Frustration
“Dear white people in the fashion world!
Please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up WTF! Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup Forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more. There’s so much options our there for dark skin tones today. A good makeup artist would come prepare and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show!
Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously! Make an effort at least! That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Town plus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones. Just because you only book a few of us doesn’t mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. 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?”