Fashion Week is a joyous time for beauty-lovers, myself included. I get to flip through our feeds full of dramatic hair and makeup and get in on the hottest nail trends for next season. But while many simply sit and take in the beauty, one glaring issue stands out to me: the lack of diversity on the runway.
Fair-complected, flaxen-haired models are frequently enlisted by designers to showcase their pieces and execute their creative visions. And while the final looks are stunning, I often end up thinking, “Where are all the brown girls with kinky curls that look like me, my mom, or my sister?” The Kendall Jenners and Gigi Hadids of the world dominate the supermodel category like pro athletes. But the warm-skinned, natural-haired women that most black girls can relate to are scarcely seen.
This includes two of my recent favorites, Maria Borges and Sanneta Myrie. The two are very different in appearance but accomplished similar feats late last year. Borges made history on the Victoria’s Secret runway for being the first woman to walk the show with her natural TWA (teeny-weeny Afro). Myrie made waves at the Miss World pageant as the first woman to wear her flowing dreadlocks on the prestigious stage. By being the first women to prowl the catwalk while embracing their natural texture makes a powerful statement: diversity on the runway is long overdue.
Fashion and beauty should be more inclusive. Women of all backgrounds — and hair types — shouldn’t be restricted to exclusionary requirements or be told that their natural “look” isn’t quite good enough. When I think of creative expression through makeup and hair artistry, I imagine the runway being a place for every woman, kinks and all, to freely flaunt her God-given beauty.
That said, as I’ve looked for the hottest trends for the season, I’ve noticed that my wish to see all different shades of melanin during Fashion Week has been granted. There hasn’t just been one rare black model appearing in a few shows, but multiple women, rocking their Afros (big and small). Designers have diversified their lineups with natural-haired beauties spearheading their shows at NYFW. It’s quite refreshing to see a girl’s head full of curls bounce down the runway along with her couture gown.
While the fashion and beauty industries still have a long journey ahead to becoming a completely inclusive community, seeing this many models with natural hair is a nice step in the right direction. It’s also a sign to designers: not only do curly beauties of all shades and sizes exist, they can slay your runways, too.
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