Despite countless calls for more diversity, the fashion industry can be set in its ways. With black models still in the minority, it takes courage to speak up and criticise your employers.
That’s exactly what Australian model Nyadak Thot did. Earlier this week, Nyadak – who goes by the name of Duckie – posted a heartfelt message on Instagram, describing the humiliation she felt as a contestant on Australia’s Next Top Model three years ago.
“I was extremely upset and embarrassed that they ‘didn’t know how’ to cornrow my natural hair when at the end of the day, that’s their job. I sat in front of the mirror silently crying before my shoot doing my own hair, shit scared I was going to get eliminated because a few ‘hairstylists’ didn’t know how to do their job,” Duckie wrote.
I remember shooting this Dinosaur Design campaign just before coming out here to the states. They called my agent at the time and asked if I was comfortable to shoot a campaign with my natural hair. She already knew what I was thinking but told me I needed to compromise sometimes. I won’t lie, I was extremely hesitant. I’ve never really had a good experience with my natural hair and modelling in Australia before. I remember on top model on one of the episodes I had to cornrow my own hair. I was extremely upset and embarrassed that they “didn’t know how” to cornrow my natural hair when at the end of the day that’s their job. I sat in front of the mirror silently crying before my shoot doing my own hair, cameras rolling while all the other girls had hairstylists, shit scared I was going to get eliminated because a few “hairstylists” didn’t know how to do their job. It’s not fun being bullied for something you can’t control and to have a top model woman of colour who I thought encouraged acceptance and self love call me out for rocking my natural hair, isn’t cool at all. Throw all the shade you want, but you played yourself with your cute little remark.
A photo posted by Duckie Thot ???? (@duckieofficial) on Nov 27, 2016 at 4:24pm PST
The 21-year-old model spoke out again in a recent interview with Teen Vogue, explaining how black women in the industry suffer: “Being a black woman, we haven’t really been taught how to take care of our natural hair – we’ve only been taught how to hide it. I think hair companies, the media, hairstylists and the industry itself are to blame. They haven’t made the same efforts to ensure black women are looked after in their most natural form.”
She’s not the first woman of colour to vent her frustrations. Both Jourdan Dunn and Leomie Anderson have previously taken to social media to call out hair and make-up artists’ lack of knowledge with Leomie saying how she still has to bring her own foundation to shows and shoots.
Why is it that the black makeup artists are busy with blonde white girls and slaying their makeup and I have to supply my own foundation ????
— Leomie Anderson (@Leomie_Anderson) February 17, 2016
Naomi Campbell also brought up the issue in another Teen Vogue interview earlier this year. Speaking of similar experiences that she encountered when she was younger, the supermodel said: “It’s disappointing to hear that models of colour are still encountering these same issues all these years later.”
Some progress is being made. In 2015, Maria Borges was the first model to walk the Victoria’s Secret runway with natural hair with this year’s show seeing three black models (including Borges) doing the same.
Perhaps the rest of the fashion industry should take note.