While we’re busy thinking on ‘Movement’ here at SPICE this August, outspoken model Nykhor Paul is reflecting on her recent Instagram post, calling out the fashion industry’s mistreatment of black models, and discussing the movement towards a more diverse industry.
As we first reported here, the Sudanese stunner had spoken out last month online about creatives’ lack of understanding and ability in working with black models, saying “Dear white people in fashion… I’m super tired of apologising for my blackness!” And now, talking to Style.com on what lead her to post, Ms Paul said;
“I’ve been in this industry for a long time, so it wasn’t one thing that set it off. It’s been a constant battle.
It’s not just the makeup; it’s not just black models not getting booked. Dealing with all the makeup issues, skin issues, hair issues, it makes you feel inadequate, especially when you’ve come to work geared up and ready to do your job as a mannequin.
This is not just something I’m going through – a lot of girls are going through this.”
The instagram post, which has gathered 5,356 comments and 21.6k likes to date, plus mention and debate in top publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, among others, seems to have gathered more attention than Nykhor could have imagined – the short-haired beauty saying;
“I certainly didn’t think it would get so much attention. [After posting the Instagram], I woke up the next day and saw the comments – some of them made me so sad.
I just started crying, because that people reacted this way speaks to the fact that there is something larger going on. People have been afraid to speak up.”
Though the debate sparked by Ms Paul’s post has brought the issue of fashion’s lack of diversity to the fore again (even if only for another fleeting moment), there is still a long way to go, Nykhor adding;
“I don’t know what the solution is, but I do feel people need to expand their idea of what black models can do.
Clients can have a narrow definition of beauty, but so can agencies. I was turned down like crazy by London agencies because they’re like, “Oh, we already have a dark girl like you.” Then I’d look it up and see that she was nothing like me at all. There is still the idea that if you have two dark girls, they are interchangeable. When you have a board of a hundred girls and only a handful are minorities, there is something wrong.”
On her Instagram post’s effect in the diversity debate, Ms Paul concluded;
“I think the best thing that has happened is that it creates a healthy dialogue. That is the only thing that I want, a conversation, and not a racist one or an antagonistic one.
People are talking about it in Kenya, in Brazil, in South Africa and Spain. There are girls who have written me, telling me that this is an issue they face daily, and if I can provide a voice for those dark-skinned girls and this issue, I’m happy to.
…I’m hoping to see more change now. We’re in a time when people are more conscious and more aware of the realities.”
Team SPICE are also looking forward to change – and in the meantime, more models and industry greats like Nykhor Paul to speak out against the issue of diversity and raise awareness of the debate, whether that’s by social media or some other powerful means.
Image source: Style.com, @Nykhor