South Sudanese model Nykhor Paul expressed her anger via Instagram toward makeup artists who did not know how to work with women with darker skin. “I should not have to apologize for my blackness” she says. She goes on to list the many products that can be used for darker skin. Black skin should not have to be an accommodation or compromise; it should be an expectation.
This comes as no surprise, but the standard of beauty is built on a predominately Eurocentric foundation. As a result, the beauty industry glorifies certain characteristics over others, creating a divergent between what is readily perceived as beautiful and what is not. Or, in the case of Paul, this mentality influences what makeup artists consider important to bring. “It is 2015,” Paul says, “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?” Unfortunately, this is not the only occurrence of this in the past 10 years. Black models are still facing injustices and remain underappreciated in the fashion and beauty industry.
For those who believe we live in a true “post-racial society,” please recognize that when “Beautiful Woman” is typed into the search bar, it is rare to see women of color show up. On the rare occurrence that they do appear, the women have straight or relaxed hair, thin noses and fair skin. Racism still exists within the fashion industry and it also applies to other mediums, such as the beauty pageant industry.
The Miss USA Pageant will air Sunday. In the past, the contestants promoted a platform or at least something that encourages social progress. This is great. However, the variety (or lack thereof) in the contestants who win does not seem to reflect the social progress they claim to endorse. There have been only a handful of minority winners, and many of them in the past simply possessed Eurocentric features. Perhaps this will be the year when the audience can view beauty queens who are tall, short, Black and white.
No matter how you look at it, there is definitely work that needs to be done in the beauty industry. It all goes back to what Paul states: “Fashion is art. Art is not racist. It should be inclusive of all, not only white people. Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?”
Read the full post as well as the comments at her official Instagram page: @Nykhor