Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Are There Enough Black Models at Fashion Week?

In September 2013 supermodels Iman and Naomi Campbell and former model agent Bethann Hardison wrote to the major fashion councils of New York, London, Milan and Paris about the lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry and specifically on Fashion Week runways.

"The absence of people of color on the runways and photography reinforces to our young girls that they're not people enough, that they're not acceptable enough," Iman told CNN.

"The diversity that we live in, the world that we live in, is not what is shown on the runway. That to me  is the concern. It's bigger issue at large than just about runway and models."

A model walks the runway at the Georgine
fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2014
Photo by Arun Nevader/Getty Images

Amen to that, Iman.  

A shamefully self-absorbed essay recently published in XOJane was a glaring example of how black women in particular are often judged and marginalized in our society. The essay was written by a self-described "skinny white girl" who became distraught after a "fairly heavyset black woman" came to a yoga class she regularly attends. For some reason, that experience was disturbing and prompted this clueless white woman to interpret, without saying a word to her, how the black woman felt about her body, her ability to do yoga and her whole existence, really, in comparison to her own perceived perfection. I won't dignify the original piece with a link back, but here's a spot on response from a fellow black female writer.

Perhaps I've been naive, but I expect people to be decent and kind and at the very least respectful of other people's differences, and I'm always shocked and angered when prejudice and racism rears its ugly head. But now that my blinders are off, I don't like what I see.

So did the fashion industry get the memo since last season and hire more black models to walk the runway?  From the daily runway photos, there appear to be more images of gorgeous black models. So perhaps that signals progress?

Here are some of the stunning models working Fashion Week Fall 2014.

A model poses at the Czar By Cesar Galindo fashion presentation during
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2014
Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images

A model at Desigual fashion show during
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2014.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

A model walks the runway at the Herve Leger By Max Azria
fashion show during Mercedes-Benz
Fashion Week Fall 2014
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

A model at the Monique Lhuillier fashion show during
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2014.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images




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