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Beauty According to Whom?

Fall/Winter Fashion Week 2012: How the world's most celebrated event in beauty and fashion looked nothing like the world

The hype surrounding New York's Fall/Winter Fashion Week is winding down, and so, I guess I’m the next person in line to expose the elephant in the room:

I must say, I’m a bit disappointed-- not because the collections weren’t hot (because they were!). But I am disappointed with the blatant lack of diversity represented by this year's chosen models.

Now, there are a handful of designers who regularly use models representing diverse ethnicities: Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta, to name a few.

However, from the images I’ve seen, the majority of the young women chosen to represent the world's most celebrated event in beauty and fashion looked nothing like the world. In fact, they had one thing in common: blond hair and blue eyes.

Now let’s be realistic here: In 2012 in New York City, are you trying to tell me there's a shortage of working models of color? I beg to differ.

I personally know an abundance of ethnic models that not only are stunning, but could stomp a runway in six inch heels blind folded. It is difficult for me to understand why these beautiful amazons are consistently overlooked. Why is this?

Do we not live in a time when beauty should be represented by all colors of the spectrum? Do models from different backgrounds make the collections look less appealing? I’m not saying that each girl should hit the catwalk singing, “It’s a Small World After All,” but given the fact that African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian women attend these shows, follow the current trends, and buy these clothes, it’s only fair to represent them as well.

And besides that, the models that don’t fit the “traditional” mold should get a fair shot.

And it’s not just the fashion industry that is guilty of projecting an imbalance in the images of beauty. The film and entertainment industry also has taken it to an entirely different level. You see entertainers virtually starving themselves to death, the brown-skinned women getting lighter and lighter. African-American women are depicted by bi-racial actresses in commercials, because having darker skin and kinky hair still has not become completely acceptable.

This just goes to show how beauty is perceived by the masses. One would think that as big of a melting pot this country is, the perception of beauty would have evolved much further than what it has. Downplaying the obvious will not make it go away.

What we as a collective have to realize is that beauty exists in all shades, from the fairest of skin to the deepest shades of brown. A woman’s skin tone, bone structure or hair texture is what makes her unique.

The idea of every woman looking the same would be boring and monotonous, and her skin color should never be the reason for her not being able to get work acting or modeling.

Yes, I know the saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But hopefully, those who dictate what beauty is to society will finally begin to open their eyes.

Whenever I’m painting a woman’s face, be it Caucasian, African American, or otherwise, I can see her natural beauty-- and not according to a fashion magazine, a music video or a commercial, but the person who is sitting right in front of me.

Beautyisvain February 18, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Wow! What an awesome article. I've seen this subject mentioned before, but I absolutely love the very factual and passionate approach you took to it. Nice job!
LaJuana Myles February 21, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Beautiful Jess:) REMEMBERING ALL THE GREATS, KNOW AND UNKNOWN: CLEO JOHNSON, GRACE JONES, JESSICA WILLIAMS, BEVERLY JOHNSON, RACHEL CALDWELL, LAJUANA MYLES, IMAN, ALEK WEK, TYRA BANKS, AND THE LIST GOES ON. Despite obstacles we still rise!!!!!!!!!
Jessica Williams April 16, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Thank you...glad you enjoyed my article!
Jessica Williams April 16, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Thank you!

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