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BlackWomenandBeauty:MyOpenLettertotheFashionIndustry

Nsikan Akpan
over 1 year Story
Black Women and Beauty: My Open Letter to the Fashion Industry

Dear Beloved Industry of Fashion and Beauty,

Many people do not see this business as an art but it truly is. Art makes one feel; art puts us in a different world. When I see advertisements of Versace from the 90s, I feel invigorated with the energy of a temptress, preying on any man I see fit. The campaigns of Dolce and Gabbana express the importance of family - with style. As for Dior, I am a precious, playful girl, no matter age, who inherited sustainable items from her chic mother. I would Google my favorite supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, to see her latest ad campaign, admiring how she modeled from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet. Modeling, too, is a craft and models are ballerinas in print. Yes, this industry is definitely an art, and I having been studying it my entire life.

It is safe to say that generally art is associated with color. Therefore, when it comes to the models portrayed in this industry, where does all that color go? Or does color only matter when it is a pattern on a party dress? Beige, ivory, and dare I say it, white, even after labor day, are what grace the pages of magazines and billboards worldwide. When mentioning these light, bright hues, I am not referring to fabric.

When I was in high school, I'd get Teen Vogue magazine every month. The excitement of finding that half-sized booklet of youthful celebrities and tips for surviving friendship drama still brings a smile to my face. After reading each one, I would cut out pictures and paste them on my walls, making my room look more like a room with each pic. However, there is one edition of Teen Vogue that I abstained from tearing apart: the November 2009 issue starring the hottest black top models of the time - Jordan Dunn and Chanel Iman. I kept that magazine all this while (proof shown above) because at fourteen years old, I wasn't sure I would see anything like it again.

Apart from loving Gisele, I can count the number of black models I admired growing up: Tyra and Naomi, of course, along with Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman. Surely, other black models came later...much later. Today, racial issues are being brought to the forefront of all industries, which makes sense. We live in a white supremacist society that umbrellas everything underneath it: employment, education, entertainment - film and sports - and of course, beauty and fashion. This why I am writing to you.

Naomi Campbell has never done a beauty campaign; this issue is the beauty industry's doing. I have done the research necessary and when I look up "Naomi Campbell beauty campaign" there are only articles discussing why she has never taken part in one. This is a major claim, but I'll say it anyway: black women are more into makeup culture than anyone. In high school, it was black girls who "beat" their faces with the right amount of contour and highlighters. I, myself did not know what all of these things were, but my sistahs did. I am just an exception to the rule. Nonblack girls applied only eyeliner and wore their hair up or down. Sometimes they put a curling or straight iron to it, but that does not compare to the "bundles" my black friends purchased and proceeded to sew in; it cannot compare to the extra effort it takes to "discipline" our natural tresses.

Speaking of hair. I get it: black hair is hard to work with; we know that more than anyone. For that reason, if more black hairstylists are invited to work in fashion shows or on the set of photo shoots, they would know just what to do with any model's hair, considering they can manage the toughest type. I hate the term "more bang for your buck," but it certainly applies in this scenario. The same solution is suitable when it comes to makeup artists. Black makeup artists would have all the right tools for a black girl's face, and if they don't, I'm sure they could mix this foundation with that foundation and create the proper shade of brown. That way, black models won't have to look like parts of their bodies went on vacation while the other parts hybernated all season.

I understand that any industry wants something in return and hiring more black people whether they are models, makeup artists, or hair stylists will give you something in return.
Here is a list of guarantees (considering the black person does not do anything to tamper with their genes):

A lifetime beauty contract because our melanin has not failed us, therefore, it will never fail you. It's no secret that black people age best. I'm not saying this to be superior I'm saying it because...facts. Ask God, or if you're not into Him, a scientist could back my claim. If a black woman were hired to be the face of a beauty campaign, she will be a viable person for this market for at least up top twenty years. Imagine that: working with the same trusted model for two decades or more because the genes of her people are promising.

Revenue. Black people have money. How we use it should only be discussed between the fam, but when black models are a part of (well thought out) campaigns, we start to see ourselves in whatever vision the marketing team was trying to create. When we picture ourselves in jeans, we will buy the jeans.

We are leaders. American culture is black culture, and while I have only listed European designers in this letter, the United States is often matched with success. This country is the reason why many non-American fashion houses have accumulated the accolades they now possess.

I am not begging or pleading. I am advising. Racism not only holds blacks back but the country and all its industries eventually go down with us. It is not possible for a group that gives so much to this land to be oppressed by the land and the land still thrives. This goes for everything, not just fashion.

Peace, Love, & Coconut Oil,
Nsikan Akpan


2 replies

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  • Bethany Heinrich
    Bethany Heinrich Mogul Influencer
    over 1 year ago New York, NY, United States

    @Nsikan Akpan I'm so glad you wrote this and thank you so much for sharing it on Mogul. I'm so surprised Naomi Campbell hasn't done a beauty campaign! Have you thought about starting a petition for her to do one or are there talks of her doing one in the future?

    @Nsikan Akpan I'm so glad you wrote this and thank you so much for sharing it on Mogul. I'm so surprised Naomi Campbell hasn't done a beauty campaign! Have you thought about starting a petition for her to do one or are there talks of her doing one in the future?


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