Diversity within the beauty industry is just as problematic as the lack of diversity within the fashion industry. Sure things are definitely better than they once were, but there is still a considerable way to go before diverse beauty is the accepted standard instead of a surprise occurrence. One person who knows about the beauty industry’s lack of diversity is supermodel Iman, who has been a prominent force in the industry since she launched her self-titled cosmetics line over 20 years ago to enormous success.
Interviewed for a new i-D documentary exposing the bias within the beauty industry and the struggle to find the proper products to accentuate the various skin tones of black women, Iman details her experiences as a top model and how she struggled with makeup artists to find the right makeup shades for her skin tone.
Refinery 29 has an excerpt of Iman’s words featured in the documentary, where the supermodel and beauty mogul states “I learned then that I had to really control my images,” she says. “So I went out…to every store I could find, and I would mix it and…put it on my face, and finally I found something a little suitable and I made a batch. This is 1976, and I carried it with me to every shoot I did.” Iman added, “Every Black model I know carries her own foundation.”
Iman goes on to say that she started to carry her own foundation after a photo shoot back in 1975 when a photographer asked her if she brought her own and she didn’t have any. She says that the resulting photos featured her skin looking gray and ashen due to the lack of makeup available for her rich brown complexion.
Fellow model Philomena Kwao is also featured in the documentary where she recounts similar experiences within the beauty industry as a black model. She states, “Growing up as a young Black woman in London, [photographers and makeup artists] often struggled to buy makeup that works for my skin tone, which seems crazy in this day and age.”
You can check out the full i-D documentary on black beauty BELOW:
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