28 Mar Racism in Beauty by Sophia Weller
The thrill of the Oscars comes around every year. For the following weeks pictures spread and people talk excitedly about who wore and won what and which couples were seen together. As the days go by though, such things become topics of the past. This year though, it seems like one particular actress in her enchanting sky blue dress remains an ongoing interest. I’m talking of course of no other than Lupita Nuyong’o, an inspiring Kenyan raised in Mexico City.
Lupita grew up in front of the same models we all did, and the same famous celebrities. Open up any magazine and you’ll be greeted with a ton of celebrities like Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence and Gwyneth Paltrow along with models such as Kate moss, Adriana Lima and Cara DeLevingne. As you have probably noticed, the ratio of darker skinned women the media portrays as beautiful compared to pale skinned women is extremely unequal. It is with good reasoning that Lupita Nuyong’o raises the concern about the lack of diversity in what society considers being beautiful. Since models and celebrities are often molds that younger girls strive to fill, it is difficult for young girls who differ from these women in skin colour to believe they can also be beautiful. Children such as a young Lupita prayed every night wishing to wake up with paler skin and awoke disappointed every morning the same, losing hope that they would ever be like those that they see in the media. The message that the media sends by focusing on pale races implies that this race is the only truly beautiful one. Adolescents who differ from almost every single raved about woman, have nobody of their own race to look up to.
It is the 21st century, where racial equality has come a long way since previous times. Which is why it is outrageous that the beauty industry still hesitates before putting a darker skinned model in an ad alone, and more often times than not they are balanced with other paler models. There is still well deserved awe and appreciation for models such as Naomi Campbell who are representing darker skinned races in the beauty industry. Yet we should be at a place where we can appreciate her solely for her talent, or watch an ad showcasing diversity without batting an eye, yet these things continue to impress the public as they differ from the norm. I dream of the day where diversity in the beauty industry is common and normal.
We still have a long way to go before diversity becomes ongoing and reoccurring and at the root of the problem are fashion companies. Maurilo Carnino, a casting director for Mtc Casting quotes “One time one of my clients were like, “No, no, no, no, no, I need a black model, but she has to be a white girl dipped in chocolate”. This idea that the fashion industry tries to cheat it’s way out of diversity is appalling. If you’re someone who keeps up with the supermodels reining the industry, you may have noticed Naomi Campbell, Chanel Iman and Jourdan Dunn frequently standing out next to their paler skinned runway companions. All three of them have admitted to being rejected by certain companies such as Victoria Beckham, Mark Jacobs, Armani and Gucci among many other top brands because “they already have one black model”. These trend-setting industries obviously fear doing something different. Show your support to models and celebrities of all skin colour, and make a stance for the new generations to come. Although the beauty industry is fun and exciting to observe, do not let it sway you from who you are. Own your differences, and let the world see your beauty.