Being a black skinned woman in the fashion industry used to be very tough in the past. Now I can boldly say that we are making a head way, but it wasn’t pretty before now, and still really isn’t. Not much as would be acceptable generally. Like you all already know this blog is not just a fashion platform, it’s an empowering platform for women of all ages. Now let’s dig into this topic, shall we!
Just a few years back, black women struggled and sometimes even now still struggle in an industry that is so dominated by the white community. The best jobs and high paying position is often reserved for only the white skinned, while in most cases the black women take the back sit. Black as a clothing colour is de rigueur – so slimming!, so perfect ! It’s worn more often by white women, but as a skin colour it has, shall we say, struggled to be accepted by the fashion mainstream. Asian models have grown in prominence over the past decade to appeal to the Asian market , African models have done the same. Black models are still too often relegated to token status, even though some of the most successful models in the world now, such as Naomi Campbell and Joan Smalls, is black.
I personally was a model back in my country (Nigeria) but gave up modelling when I moved here. Reason being that there was just a lot going on in the industry when it comes to the colour of one’s skin.
Stories of industry racism are now so well known it’s easy to become blase about them, and many come from the few successful black women in the business. Dunn has spoken out repeatedly and bravely about how she is often turned away because the client “doesn’t want any more black girls” and is rejected for being “coloured”. Similarly, Chanel Iman told the Times a few years back, that designers have rejected her from shows because: “We already found one black girl. We don’t need you any more.” Smalls told Elle in 2013 that she’s been told: “You’re a black model. It’s a challenge.”
I have been to several fashion events in my career as a stylist and blogger, and I can boldly say that never have I seen a Black Woman stand up to speak either as an entrepreneur or as a creative director of a popular fashion brand. It gives me a sad awakening of the reality. You can say, oh ! things were worse so many years and decades ago. I completely understand that, and I also know that things are better for black women in this industry now than it was year ago. Can it be even better than it is now ? Of course yes! Is the process of black women empowerment in this industry a bit too slow? I will also say yes!
I have had my fare share of discrimination too in this country (London) as a black woman in this industry. That I wouldn’t even want to go into otherwise I will be writing an essay. In other words, this post is about us empowering each other as black women in this industry. There is no need for unnecessary competition amongst ourselves as there is already too much competition for us out there. Let’s stand in unity and say in one voice “together we stand to break every barriers which has been created by us or the industry we are in”
At times, life can get a bit crazy. Even when you find yourself on a sure path of success, there are constant demands that challenge us to change, grow, and embrace the unknown. As a woman who wears a lot of shoes (wife, mother, daughter, best friend, businesswoman etc.) I know the feeling all too well. We often envy others perceiving that their grass is greener. But underneath all of our obvious differences and distinctions, we are all universally the same. We all have one blood which is “red”. There isn’t any black blood, or white blood, in any of us. Just red.
As Black or white women, we each have passions, dreams, fears, and aspirations that converge at life’s unpredictable intersections and at times cause us to feel as if we are speeding out of control, but we must hold on and continue to chase our dreams in this industry and far beyond, no matter the obstacle, hate, and discrimination we may face. we must persevere until we get to the other side of the present challenge. There is a remarkable liberty that comes only from refusing to quit.
Keep pushing, keep holding on. Till my next post……