Film treads color lines of fashion world

A documentary depicted ‘white’ standards of beauty in the fashion industry, which students said are unwise and unfair. (Photo Courtesy of Delisa O’Brien)

By Jaimie Cohen
Correspondent

In a world where beauty is often affiliated with the qualities of white women, African- American women are encouraged to abandon their ethnic body type, according to a film shown at the College last week.

On Oct. 6, the National Council of Negro Women held a viewing and discussion of the documentary, “The Colour of Beauty,” in Brower Student Center Room 211 to raise awareness of racism existing in the fashion industry.

“The Colour of Beauty,” directed by Elizabeth St. Philip, is a look at the life of Renee Thompson, a black model trying to make it to the top of the New York fashion world. It takes more than just looks, the walk and drive for Thompson to succeed.

According to the film, modeling agencies very seldom hire black models. If and when they do, they expect them simply to look “like white girls dipped in chocolate.” They have no interest in displaying these women for who they truly are ethnically and thus develope a false sense of diversity in fashion magazines.

In showing the documentary, members of the National Council of Negro Women sought to raise awareness of these inequalities and the difficulties black models must confront. There are very few top models that contain the ethnic features of black women, they said. Rather, they display features commonly seen in white women, such as a small nose and thin lips.

“As a black woman myself, it’s rather hurtful to know that those features which define who I am as a black female are not beautiful enough to sell clothes or shoes.” said Lauren Sampson, senior health and exercise science major and president of the College’s chapter of the National Council of Negro Women. “Unless an ethnic person is super famous, chances are they will never be a model on a large campaign, let alone featured in Fashion Week.”

Others agreed with Sampson.

“The fashion industry needs to become more diverse or they are going to be obsolete, because these days, money is power, diversification brings in money,” said Lynette Barnes, senior women’s and gender studies and psychology double major.