Exploring the Story Behind #BlackModelsMatter

Black Lives Matter, as do the lives of Black models who have been struggling for decades to earn a place on the fashion runways. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges, Black models are changing the status quo and creating a new definition of “beauty.” Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are risking their lives by protesting daily […] The post Exploring the Story Behind #BlackModelsMatter appeared first on Morocco World News.

Exploring the Story Behind #BlackModelsMatter
Black Lives Matter, as do the lives of Black models who have been struggling for decades to earn a place on the fashion runways. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges, Black models are changing the status quo and creating a new definition of “beauty.” Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are risking their lives by protesting daily against the killing of George Floyd, expressing their anger and frustration regarding how Black communities are treated in the US and hoping to change the status quo. This current situation has led to a serious racial debate amongst Black models. This group is always struggling to be accepted by the fashion industry, and is asking for more equality, integrity, justice, and diversity on the international fashion runways. This earned the hashtag #BlackModelsMatter viral momentum on social media. Oppressive norms persist despite marginal victories Although 2019 was a triumphant year for Black women within the beauty pageant scene. South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe on December 8, joining Kaliegh Garris who won the Miss Teen USA title, while Cheslie Kryst won Miss USA and Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh was named Miss World. Most of these Black pageant winners had their crowns atop their voluminous curls, as they chose to feature “African” beauty and celebrate their color and uniqueness, instead of hiding behind the traditional norms of beauty. During these dark moments that Black communities are enduring, those breaking the traditional-beauty-norms rule are representing the hope of a greater, more inclusive, and more diverse fashion industry. The industry’s current norms of beauty are evolved from a past marred by slavery, oppressive gender stereotypes, and racism. This makes the rule-breakers a leading symbol for African models. “Black girls always go through a lot, as they are not treasured in Africa, even when this is our home, where people should be proud of our color!” lamented Lucy Silverno, a commercial model from Uganda. And when asked about the other challenges that Black models are facing, she responded: “We face many challenges, like the fact that we are being called prostitutes, as people don’t respect models and are ashamed of us, of our color and our choices. Which pushes many of my black friends to bleach their skin so they can “fit in the group”, because black models are looked at as ugly creatures, and this needs to end. After all, we are all humans whether black or white.” Figure 1 Lucy Silverno walks the runwayDespite the seemingly insurmountable challenges that Black models are facing, some sub-Saharan migrants dream of becoming professional models, while others consider it a way to make a living abroad. Developing modeling skills and confidence at Fondation Orient-Occident “It was my dream to become a model, despite my color and all the difficulties,” said Aminato, a sub-Saharan migrant from Mali. She added, with a deep sadness in her voice, “My journey from Mali was very hard, as I moved from a neighboring country to another, working as a singer and hoping to find a way to fulfill my dream. Until I reached Morocco, and finally the dream came true!” Aminato is among the young women that were pursuing professional modeling training before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic at Fondation Orient-Occident in Rabat. This training aims to enhance their various capacities, such as communication skills, sense of style, adaptability, the ability to look good on camera and runways, but most importantly enhancing their self-esteem by learning to become proud of their color, identity, and uniqueness. Figure 2: Sub-Saharan Models in Rabat, Morocco“I don’t want to say that it is my dream to become a model, actually I never thought I could become one, because of my dark color. But some family members encouraged me, as I am tall enough,” said Sarra, a participant from South Sudan. She continued with a confident tone: “In fact, everyone is beautiful, whether you are black or white, tall or short, you have hair or don’t. You are beautiful the way you are!” Beauty lies in diversity. It is a fact that the fashion industry should take into account, and stop pretending to be “colorblind” but becoming “color brave” instead, acknowledging diversity and changing the racial narratives. And hopefully, this “Nelson Mandela’s generation” will be the last one dealing with the fashion industry’s racism, discrimination, and xenophobia. The post Exploring the Story Behind #BlackModelsMatter appeared first on Morocco World News.