Black Journal: Dear Fashion industry, an open letter from a fed-up Toronto Black model.
I am tired! I am tired of you all not getting it together, I am tired of being silent, being too polite to speak up. I am tired of being told that my skin "looks great" while the white makeup artist spends 1-2 hours on the other models. While I sit in the corner wondering if I am beautiful enough. While I wonder why I am not getting the same treatment as the other models. While I know it is all because the makeup artist is not sure how to do my makeup and she is too proud to admit that to me.
I am tired of smiling, while inside I am angry and feel left out. I am tired of being sent out in front of cameras and on a runway with little to no makeup. I am tired of looking orange with the wrong foundation, having unblended makeup, the wrong eye shadow, wrong blush, and wrong everything that has to do with makeup.
I am tired of looking like a clown after the makeup artist has finished doing my makeup. I am tired of being a “trophy” just to make your brand look good, I am tired of being told “you are not what we are looking for” because of my skin colour.
As a black woman, I already struggle with everything I do. I am proud of who I am and those struggles made me who I am today and I do not need to have to be told/reminded by you all every time. To be reminded that I am not pretty enough to be part of your campaign or to represent your brand. I am tired of being silent. Here I am telling you what I need from you. I am a model just like any model out there. I need to be treated like one of them. I am a beautiful black woman. I am representing my nation and showing the little girls out there they can do it.
I need you all to have makeup artists that are competent in what they claim to be. I need your hairstylist to be confident when working on my hair and not damage it. I need you all to educate yourselves about working with black models and be ready when we walk on set so you do not look shocked and have a mini heart attack because you do not know what to do with us.
We black models deserve to be represented well and to be treated equally on set and anywhere we are to be. We are more than just the trophy model, we are more than just one shade, we have multiple shades of black and we are proud of it.
We have makeup artists that know how to work on our skin colour and any skin colour - HIRE THEM!! We have hair stylists that are competent in every hair texture - HIRE THEM!! We have photographers that know how to photograph our skin and every other skin colour - HIRE THEM!! We have creative directors and designers that are familiar with what it means to be black and to how to represent everyone - HIRE THEM!!
We need a change, enough is enough. I am tired of having to correct my makeup in the bathroom. I am tired of crying after a shoot because my self-esteem has been shattered.
I am tired.
Take accountability and make changes. Posting on your social media, telling us “Black Lives Matter” is not enough. Back up your posting with ACTIONS! A change is overdue, take some classes, educate yourselves and come back with a different mindset that is ready to represent everyone equally. Because as a black model, I am tired.
Enough is enough!.
Sincerely A Fed Up Model,
Abuk Tong is a Toronto based model. All opinions expressed in this post are that of the author and do not necessarily express the opinions of Afro Social Centric.