For every step we take towards an inclusive fashion and beauty industry, we always end up taking a few paces back, too. Now, the strides that we've made should be celebrated, like all of the Afros we saw at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Paris or the glorious natural hairstyles that dominated during New York Fashion Week. But sometimes, the ugly side of such a beautiful industry steals the spotlight.
Leomie Anderson, who's walked in VSFS and Yeezy, penned a letter to her 15-year-old self for Elle. In it, she describes scenarios that my fellow chocolate sisters know all too well, like watching her friends pick out concealers and foundations without shades for her skin tone. And the issue carried over backstage at the shows she walked in, where uninformed makeup artists made her skin tone look grey. She acknowledged that things are a lot better these days, thankfully, and that brands are way more forward-thinking with including a wider range of bases.
Of course, she's not alone. Lilah Pearsons, a former model and current radio host on a popular London station, shared a few screenshots from her days on the runway. In two casting requests, both memos noted that models with Afros need not apply. "All except Afro - would like girls with quite a lot of hair," one read. And in the other, "all lengths and colours" were fair game...all except Afros. Now, it's important to note that these are from 2011 — and a lot has changed since then. But, it's also incredibly important to recall these issues, if only to raise awareness of how far we've come — and how important it is not to take leaps back.
Like I said before, the efforts of diversity are way better now. According to The Fashion Spot, 31.5% of New York Fashion Week models were non-white. And every brand showcased at least one model of colour. Although there are always gaffes, like the Afros at Michael Costello and the yarn dreadlocks at Marc Jacobs. Hopefully, like certain fashions of seasons past, those casting requests will be out of style for good — and that's a trend that we can all get behind.