Lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry

“There is a time where silence is not acceptable at all…If the conversation cannot be had publicly in our industry — then inherently there is something wrong with the industry.” Iman Abdulmajid

Activist and former model Bethann Hardison, formed the Diversity Coalition in which the essential argument is that the lack of racial diversity reflected in the fashion industry and the apparent exclusion therein is a clear indication of racism, one that has not improved over the years but worsened. On Bethann’s camp is former supermodel Iman and Naomi Campbell campaigning to stamp out racial discrimination in the fashion industry.

This is not a new issue; this matter had been raised in 2009 but was essentially forgotten. Naomi Campbell told BBC’s Rico Hizon that “we are not calling them racist but rather that it comes down to a racist act. Only 9% of the models on the catwalk are Asian and 6% are of color.” (see video below)

In a letter sent out by the Diversity Coalition, the following was stated in the excerpt below:

“Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches design houses consistently use one or no models of color. No matter the intention, the result is racism. Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond ‘aesthetic’ when it is consistent with the designer’s brand. Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models, reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society. It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model.”

The campaign stems from their frustration with the blatant lack of diversity they have seen on the runways as a result of designers using only one or no models of color. Iman, whose career spans over four decades explained the industry is worsening, not improving as it should, on this issue saying that “there were more black models working then, then it is happening in 2013.”

Evidently, the lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry impacts the societies views on beauty. Iman, who has a daughter, told Becky Anderson of CNN that she does not want her daughter to have a false sense of identity and perception of beauty. The importance of this campaign cannot be overstated in this regard. (see video below)

What are your views on this issue?

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