To Designers, Minority Models Don't Make Cents

Illustration for article titled To Designers, Minority Models Don't Make Cents

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Naomi Campbell has ignited a controversy.

But this time, it doesn’t involve someone’s billionaire husband or an accusation that the model I love to call Nay-Nay smashed someone’s skull with her BlackBerry.

Nope. The last of the supermodels is again publicly calling out the fashion industry for its racism.

Earlier this year, Campbell said in a magazine interview: “You know, the American president may be black, but, as a black woman, I am still an exception in this business. I always have to work harder to be treated equally.”

Now Nay-Nay is speaking out on how the economy has made it harder for black models to excel in an industry already discouraging toward them.

Speaking with the Telegraph, she pointed out that no woman of color has been tapped by designers to promote their lines.

She said: "This year, we have gone back all the way that we had advanced. I don't see any black woman, or of any other race, in big advertising campaigns."

Although she acknowledges the success of the all-black issue of Italian Vogue, she said, “That made some noise, but, unfortunately, we are the same as before.”

And when prompted to discuss how the economy has affected the advancement of minority models, Nay-Nay added:  "People, in the panic of the recession, don't dare to put a girl of color in their campaign, full stop. Nor of any other race. It's a shame. It's very sad."

As someone who has helped knock down racial barriers in the world of fashion via her being the first black model to appear on the covers of French and British Vogue, Naomi no doubt knows of what she speaks.

The power of the black consumer has been covered decade after decade now. And as time passes on, it’s quite clear other minority groups’ economic power is nothing to be ignored.

Even if our beauty doesn’t fix their Eurocentric standards, what’s it going to take for these designers to realize showing off a black and brown hue may lead to more green for them?

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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.