OK! now this is really not news, if you are a woman of color then you are, and have been acutely aware that your image is not represented, let alone thought of in the fashion industry whether on the runways or in editorial, commercial, or print. The fashion world is one that is segregated, if there weren’t “black” fashion magazines like Essence, we would almost never see models of color, let alone of various shades and sizes. But I love this piece because it just presents the facts. As a woman of color if you talk about these sorts of subjects you are paranoid, or angry, basically dismissed, people want to point out the one or two exceptions and try to make it a rule, or present it as balance. That just isn’t the case and the numbers don’t lie. Now the why of it is the REAL story and possible the scandal. I see the absence of color akin to the absence of body weight in fashion, it is the process whereby the definition (through absence) is created. There is no rationale for this gross under-representation of “real” women, the sort one sees every day in the shops and in one’s work place. For the fashion industry it is simply as if they don’t exist – or, if they do, they are all secreted away somewhere they can’t be seen. Are they hiding? Staying indoors all day watching daytime TV? No – they are part of the fabric of society and life and for this reason they should not be dismissed from the pages of the magazines we all read. If it is not represented it is “not” it is erasure in a sense. Women with curves and women of color are not seen, they do not rank or fit the working definition and perimeters of beauty. And you wonder why women have complexes and are screwed up? Where is My Body where is My Image?
We can report that the just ended New York fashion week featured the least racially diverse cast of models since 2008. New York fashion week featured 137 designer runway shows and presentations, and 5,269 different fall outfits were presented to the world’s retailers and press. Of those 5,269 looks, 4,468 — an overwhelming 84.8% — were modeled by white women. 801 of those looks were given to models who aren’t white. Black models were used 384 times. Asian models were used 323 times. Non-white Latina models were used 79 times. Models of other races only made it onto the runways of New York City — one of the most racially diverse places on this planet — 15 times.