The fashion industry is known for being the absolute worst when it comes to its prejudices, whether that be regarding skin colour, dress size, or any other aesthetic component that they rely on to make money. Television network BET has released a new five-part series called Black Like Me, a show focused on racism in fashion and the experiences of black models.
Black Like Me features models including Nyakim Gatwech, Leomie Anderson, Ajak Deng and Khoudia Diop, each of whom share their experiences as black women in a whitewashed professional landscape. The models talk about traumatic experiences with hairstylists, whether that be painful encounters with extensions, or just clueless stylists who don't know how to tend to or style black hair, just to name a couple of instances. When it comes to make up, the biggest problem is when make up artists don't carry foundations/concealers/powders dark enough to match their skin in their kit.
But beyond what goes on in hair and make up, colourism is still a massive problem, with many casting agents taking preference of black models with lighter skin and looser curls than those with darker skin tones and tighter curls or more afro natural hair. Leomie Anderson shares an experience in the show whereby she'd waited for over three hours to meet with casting agents to be told, 'sorry, we're not looking for any African people.'
It's not just about people of colour in the industry — it's equally important for racism to be eliminated from the fashion industry for the sake of those who engage with the brands, magazines, and ad campaigns that stick to whitewashed beauty standards and fail to represent people of colour in a less tokenised way. Props to BET for creating such a great - and insightful for those on the outside - series that allows black models to speak up and speak out about what they've been through, and will help to reshape the fashion industry's prejudiced landscape.
You can watch Black Like Me online.