I love fashion and beauty. I’m always excited when I get to see people who look like me on the runway, representing a makeup brand, or on the cover of a fashion magazine. Black and brown and all the different shades in between. I’ve also wondered what it must be like being a minority in a world dominated by white women. In an article in ELLE, eight gorgeous black models give us an insider’s look at the model industry from a black woman’s perspective.
Khoudia Diop, 19, is from Senegal where bleaching ones skin to look lighter is common.
I grew up in Senegal, where more than 50 percent of the women bleach their skin, and skin bleaching is a huge deal. I grew up seeing my cousins and my aunts using it. My cousin pressured me and they wanted me to use skin bleaching products but my sister said you’re not using it because a lot of them experience the damages [from it].
Khoudia grew up being teased for being “too dark”. When she moved to Paris at 15, that’s when she was approached because of her dark skin. People would tell her she should think about modeling. She went to New York to major in business and is now featured in The Colored Girl. She even starred in Makeup Forever’s #BlendInStandOut ad and was seen photographed with our Editor, Lisa, at Curlfest just last week (read the post HERE)
On the use of bleaching creams:
I wanted to use it at a point, not going to lie, and I felt really ashamed of being dark, but my sister would always show me pictures of dark skin models, there weren’t a lot, but she would show me pictures of dark skin models and say “this is not a bad thing and your skin is not a thing you have to change. It’s unique and beautiful and you have to learn to know things you like about yourself and celebrate them.
Mominatu Boog, 21, is Liberian Chicagoan chick living abroad in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
I feel like in the industry when it comes to dark skinned women they always make us out to be these aggressors and these angry people when we’re not. I don’t have to shave my head to be a model. I don’t have to look like I am going to bark at you to be a model. I like flowers. I like perfume. I like sweet stuff.
I am very dark but I am very soft and feminine and I don’t really feel like there is a lot of that in the dark skin market. Stop trying to make us out to seem like we are these animals.
I remember one time getting my full face of makeup done and I look in the mirror and it’s a completely wrong shade and I am like, What the heck, you’re a makeup artist I don’t understand how you don’t understand how to do all types of skin tones not just one. I have had multiple experiences where I am like this is not how I am supposed to look. Sometimes they’ll use lighter shades or darker shades. I think [some makeup artists] just don’t understand how to do it, so they try to compromise and try to mix and match and make things instead of just having the correct shades because they’re available, but they just don’t have them.
At this point, I don’t even say anything anymore, I’ll just go into the bathroom and fix it myself. I’ll come out and they’ll say “OMG you look amazing” and I am like “yeah because I did it myself.” It is annoying that I have to go through that and at first I was scared to make those adjustments but at the end of the day I am my own brand and I don’t want to put work out there, whether it’s with a client or for myself, because it’s me, my image—it’s not the makeup artist it’s not anyone, it’s me so I need to make sure that it’s on point.
Kamie Crawford, 24, models for JAG. She holds the title of Miss Maryland Teen USA and Miss Teen USA 2010.
I once had a job where the client was so nice, the shoot was long and the rate wasn’t amazing, but I wanted to do it regardless. I got there and the hairstylist was Australian. She went in to do my hair and she kept referring to my hair as an afro and my hair was straight this day. She was like “OMG this afro!” and I was like, what the hell are you talking about and she kept referring to my edges as afro bits. In a negative way.
It was taking so long to do my hair, the client asked what’s going on, we are not on schedule, and she said her afro bits are too difficult for me to do them, I am trying to get them straight. Basically she was blaming it on me and making it seem like my hair and I were the problem but it wasn’t me. My hair was straight but she just didn’t know how to do it. Of course, it’s offensive but I can’t cuss her out and do my job at the same time. These microaggressions add up being a woman of color and others models who aren’t of women of color don’t have to face it.