Chelsea Chic: The Shade of Race – Exposing Color on the Runway

by Chelsea-Alana Andrews


New York Fashion Week is supposed to expose the newest trends, styles, and colors for the upcoming season, but it seems as though this year’s NYFW exposed the dark truth about the fashion industry today that we all thought was long gone.

One New York designer, Zac Posen, whose pieces can be spotted on many celebrities from Rihanna to Michelle Obama, raised awareness on his Instagram that there was still work needed to be done in having a more diversified range of models in the industry in order to appeal to all audiences. Hence the hashtag started by him, #BlackModelsMatter.

It seemed that fashion designers followed through with Posen’s plight, but racism still managed to slip through last week when some disgusting comments were posted under a MAC Cosmetics’ post of a close-up of a black model’s lips.

Aamito Lagum was the first model to win Africa’s Next Top Model and is no stranger in the fashion industry. She has been in shows like Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, Hermes and more. In 2014, she became the first woman of color to open the show for Balenziaga.

However, it was MAC Cosmetics’ posting of her lips on their Instagram account that set the internet on fire, with people taking the platform to vocalize their ignorance.

Internet trolls made comments about her lips as being those that resemble a monkey’s, another comment said that her lips could “never been as beautiful as white women.”

Lagum calmly took to her personal Instagram stating that all publicity is beneficial.

According to MadameNoire, a web publication geared towards African-American women, it is estimated that black women spend nearly 7.5 billion dollars annually on beauty products that are not marketed directly for them nor represented by them.

The buying power of colored people as a whole is so strong in this industry that it’s somewhat silly that black women are not the main representation when it comes to the beauty and fashion lines.

How could these industries not feel as though they should always incorporate colored people in their marketing strategies when colored people help these companies stay afloat?

“M·A·C stands for and respects all ages, all races, all sexes. We do not tolerate any abusive comments in our community,” said MAC Cosmetics in an official statement.

In the midst of the cyber bullying, by saying that a black woman’s natural features are basically too bold to showcase a lip shade, could entail that a white woman’s features are just plain enough to keep the focus on the product.

The lack of diversification does not uplift one race over the other, it diminishes both races.

By saying one race is better to market than the other because of particular features, it is saying that one is unadorned and the other is austere enough to publicize without distractions from the emphasis of the products.

Racism is the belief that one race is better than the other, but ignorance is the conception that one race is more acceptable due to popularity and what has been the norm for some time.

I believe that the people who bashed Lagum, did not believe that what they were saying was ever going to make an impact like it did, who has not gone under into the abyss of thousands of comments to voice their opinion of a dress being too short, a color being too bright or even a model being the topic of interest more than the actual manufactured good.

However, I do hope with the mixing of cultures and races, that one day the size of lips, color of eyes, shape of nose and texture of hair will not be prevalent in the simple posting of the newest shade of matte lipstick.

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