“Why can a white model sit in anyone’s chair and feel confident they’ll look okay but black models have to worry?”
“Why is there only ever one black hairdresser backstage yet they need four hairdressers to inspect my weave?”
“Why is it that the black makeup artists are busy with blonde white girls and slaying their makeup and I have to supply my own foundation?”
These are the questions London-based model Leomie Anderson was asking in a series of tweets on February 17.
Anderson, who recently walked in the Victoria’s Secret runway show, found herself in a familiar position; having been booked for a New York Fashion Week show she turned up backstage to have her hair and makeup done.
As usual there were few hairstylists and makeup artists of colour. But what she saw the hairstylists doing to the other black model’s natural hair made her thankful she had a weave.
The crimping, back combing and hair spraying was causing visible damage.
She may have thought the nightmare was over, but then it was time for makeup.
I too know the sweat-inducing feeling of walking into a room of hairstylists and makeup artists; not knowing if you’ll get someone who understands how to make your skin tone and hair look it’s best, or one that will straighten your hair and apply hairspray, and then act surprised when the hair goes frizzy by the time you’re on the runway.
It’s even worse when they make the models line up, and hairstylists pick whose hair they want to do – I’ll let you guess who is chosen first.
I don’t know a model of colour that doesn’t know the feeling of getting up from the hairstylist’s chair to look in the mirror and finding a unholy mess of an ‘up do’ on top of your head, the stylist’s ashamed and confused face peeking out from behind you, while a blonde white model walks past with bouncy curls and says; “Oh! The show’s starting soon, have you been to hair yet?”
This isn’t the first time Anderson, who has also walked for Kanye West, has spoken out about issues of being a model of colour, “lighter skinned girls get more work than darker skinned girls” she told the BBC in November 2015.
After Anderson’s comments, do you think stylists will be doing any better in the coming weeks? I’ll definitely be looking out for Anderson’s black model survival kit on her blog, cracked china cup.
P.S. This weekend I’ll be on the runway for Fashion’s Finest at London Fashion Week. You can still get tickets here: http://www.fashionsfinest.com/events/fashion-week-shows. Pray for my hair.