The Challenging World of Black Supermodels

The modeling industry is struggling with many problems.

It starts with the price

The holy trinity of fashion models [Dailymail/Pinterest/crfashionbook]
Naomi Campbell, Iman, and Tyra Bank have historically broken glass ceilings for many black models and are very wealthy. Iman‘s net worth is $200 billion. Tyra Bank is worth $90 million, while Naomi Campbell‘s net worth is $80 million.

For new schoolgirls, Jourdan Dunn is the richest model, reportedly worth $13 million. The popular Adut Akech is worth $2 million,- despite the number of runways she has walked. Winnie Harlow, a model with vitiligo is worth $4 million.

Winnie, Adut, Jourdan [Instagram]
It was recently put together a list of the five currently highest-paid models in the world and, of course, there were no black models on it. The fact that the black models are not in the top five points to a pricing issue.

Making them part of a quota

Recently, Faith Morey, a model who visited Pulse Nigeria headquarters in Lagos for an interview, said that back then, black models were for quota. “We have 10 models. Let’s just add a black one.” Today, things have improved considerably. 47% of models at Fashion Week 2020 were black.

The fetishization of black skin

In the world of international fashion, black skin is fetishized. Creative directors and designers rarely accept their natural skin tone. Canadian model Nina Amerlise spoke with Pulse about how she was made four shades darker for a magazine feature.

Their acceptance of the black person seems to be due to aesthetics, as only extreme blackness represents Africa.

In February 2022, Vogue was criticized for making the faces of its models off the covers increasingly black: painting the faces of models dark is a form of blackface.

Vogue’s black face cover [Britishvogue]
In racist cultures, there is what is called blackface, that is, the caricature and ridicule of Africans and African Americans. Blackface should have no place in the modeling world.

Black skin and hair are not taken care of.

Another challenge these models face is the lack of black stylists who know how to handle black hair.

Nini, who has walked fashion weeks in New York, South Africa, and Paris, told Pulse that they often refuse to do their hair and let her walk the runway as she is.

Most of the time, these black models have to cut their hair to get more modeling jobs.

It’s amazing how black models are starting to be loved and recognized, for example, the all-black covers of Vogue.

However, tanning your skin is much more than an artistic choice, it can already be interpreted as a fetishization of darkness.

What is the conclusion? Black models must be accepted as they are, paid the same as everyone else, and the particularities of their skin and hair must be taken into account.

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