Today we tackle the recurring theme of the stereotypical and restrictive approach the fashion industry and modelling agencies use when working with aspiring black models.
In a video for BET Her, model Nyakim Gatwech revealed that before ultimately having a buzz cut, she had an afro, but no one knew what to do with it backstage as its “texture was too nappy”. Another model, Khoudi Diop, who also wears her hair short, confessed that she “always loves to travel with a brush and gel because backstage sometimes” she finds herself having to do her own hair or make-up.
Indeed, fashion professionals not knowing how to cater to black women’s hair or make-up is widely documented. Still, the prevalence of dark-skinned black models with cropped hair is raising questions.
This trend has been illustrated in the French web series Afropolitaine. The show revolves around two sisters of African origin, Yvoire and Janis, born and raised in Paris. The series aims to normalise the portrayal of black people on TV by depicting non-stereotypical black characters. In the episode ‘Belle Dame’ (Beautiful Lady), Yvoire learns that she secured a conditional spot in a modelling agency. To ensure the bag, she needs to shave her afro. But her sister confronts her on the matter.