Model Nykhor Paul recently lashed out at professional makeup artists in the fashion industry who refuse to cater to dark-skinned models. The global fashion industry is known for excluding people of colour, but even here in South Africa, where 80% of the population is black, it can be difficult to source makeup for dark skin tones. FIRDAUS KHAN asked people in fashion and TV about how this has affected them.
Christian Maghoma, 20, model at Ice Models, Auckland Park
I wouldn’t say my skin tone is marginalised, but I think it’s unfair that we aren’t always catered to. Makeup artists have never asked me to bring makeup to shoots. But I think there is a need for a solution to this, cos it’s not fair if they can only (make up) one skin tone. The solution could be finding the makeup for black people, and accommodating them for shows. But overall, I have never experienced this.
Zamantungwa Khumalo, 25, talk radio producer and presenter, Kagiso
Makeup companies don’t cater for dark-skinned people. Only now, post-Lupita Nyong’o, you are finding some cosmetics companies, who are waking up and catering for dark-skinned people. But it’s still not being done enough. In South Africa, at MAC, the darkest colour they have is for my skin tone – and I’m not the darkest skin tone you’ll get. I’ve asked them at the counter, and they said they do cater for darker people, but those colours are more in their Nigeria stores. There have been instances (at TV interviews) where I thought I’m being made up a shade or two lighter than my skin tone, and I’d bring it up, but they didn’t have the proper shade of makeup for my skin. Not even catering to dark-skinned people is sending a message that you’re not worthy of being pretty.
Usually, white makeup artists will get the wrong foundation for black models. Some of the dark-skinned girls end up not wearing makeup, just moisturiser, because they can’t find the right foundation. There (have been) situations backstage at fashion shows, where the hairstylists will say they don’t do ethnic hair or ethnic makeup. When they are forced to, then the girls look pale. But professional makeup artists, with the use of MAC, Revlon, Iman Cosmetics and Estee Lauder, now cater for black ethnic faces. Dark skin is unspoken of, it’s unappreciated, it’s unpraised and it’s side-lined. We can’t overlook it.
Tshepiso Ralehlathe, 22, model with Ice Model Management, Cape Town
I’m not the darkest skinned, so it should be easy to have foundation for me, but I’ve had instances where I am either made grey because the makeup artist doesn’t have my colour, or I am made super-dark. I’ve had crazy instances, where as a black girl, you don’t look as good as all the white girls. I’ve definitely had my fair share of bad makeup artists, but I’ve also had amazing artists. There have been white women who have perfected my skin tone, but there have been those few instances where your makeup is being done and you have to rush to the bathroom to fix it. I’ve never been asked to bring my own makeup to a shoot, but far too often I go with my own makeup set anyway.