There are fewer black women fashion models on the catwalk than there were in the 1990s, when Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and others were still modelling. What black models do we have now to take their place?
A third of fashion shows are no better than they were in the 1950s: they have no black models at all. Most of the rest have just one or two so that it does not “look bad”.
There are hundreds of white models but only a few black ones. So you keep seeing the same ones over and over again.
New York is not quite as bad as London and Milan: British Vogue has not had a black model on its cover since Naomi Campbell last appeared in 2002. That was five years ago.
Paris is the worst: the Paris fashion show in 2007 had only one black model! Black modelling agencies that were started in Paris have either closed or shifted their business.
The Elite modelling agency, which discovered Naomi Campbell, has only two black models. Its agency in Paris says there is not enough work for more black models: Asians and Arabs do not like to see black women. But is Elite much better when it comes to Asian and Arab models? If Elite is to be believed, Asian and Arab women dream of being tall, thin white women with yellow hair. That is why there are so few black models!
Sometimes when modelling agencies try to send black models to fashion designers and magazines they are told not to send any more.
You hear the very same things in Brazil where only half the people are white.
As the blog Rachel’s Tavern points out, it has got so bad that even the New York Times has noticed.
It is not as if black women do not like clothes or fashion. Far from it.
Black America has more money than all of Brazil, which has its own fashion industry and world-famous supermodels.
So why are so few black women on the catwalk?
I am not in the fashion industry, but I have my ideas:
- The fashion industry is run by white people who have white ideas of beauty. To them black is not beautiful.
- The fashion industry is run by old white people who have old-fashioned ideas about race. But because they are successful, they think they are better than the rest of us. So if they object to seeing a black woman in a pretty dress they think the rest of us would like it even less.
- More white women seem to have the figure (or lack of it) required by modelling. Models are, in effect, walking clothes hangers. This has nothing to do with “thin is beautiful”, but with how clothes look on someone.
Naomi Campbell, for her part, says she will not leave the business till there are more black models to take her place. In Kenya she said, “I believe there are pretty girls from your lovely country who can grace the international catwalk and the front pages of fashion magazines, with proper strategies.”
- fashion model
- Crossing fashion’s ‘thin white line’
- The Modeling World is Unapologetically Racist – from Rachel’s Tavern, brought to my attention by Stephanie B. (thanks!)
- race and beauty – where this thread got started
- The all-black Vogue – can you believe it!!?
- The most beautiful black women models – my own list which I made before I even thought of writing this. Notice that it has no fashion models who are still on the catwalk.
- Black fashion models: