I admit, I had fallen off the fashion reality show bandwagon long before Tyra completely lost her mind with these latest seasons of “America’s Next Top Model”. So while I was interested in the newest fashion competition called “The Face”, featuring top models Naomi Campbell, Coco Rocha, and Karolina Kurkova, I did not keep up with it at all.
But my lack of diligence did not keep me from catching wind of a recent bit of “WTFery” that happened on the show.
A model named Devyn Abdullah was being interviewed by none other than Wendy Williams when the following dialogue took place:
Wendy: Is it hard to be a black girl model?
Devyn: I don’t really consider myself to be a black girl model. I mean, I know what my ethnicity is, but I’m fair-skinned and I feel like I have an international look.
As for the fallout, let’s just say Miss Campbell has a new wig to add to her collection.
Ms. Abdullah is a single mother from the Bronx who prior to her shot at modeling stardom was working three jobs to care for her family. She is a very lovely young African American woman.
However, her comment was simply unacceptable and if she has a brain in her head, she will apologize for it. And I don’t mean because a cellphone might go flying at her head from some random direction at any minute.
She should apologize for helping to justify the othering of black women everywhere on national freaking television.
I don’t care what this woman calls or considers herself. I don’t know her. And despite this brain fart, I wish Devyn all the best. But I am so TIRED of African American women acting like there is something wrong with black skin. Or even worse, avoiding identifying with black skin for reasons that are CLEARLY colorist in nature.
When I initially read about a controversial statement where she denied thinking of herself as a black model, I was full-on expecting something like, “I am just a model like everyone else, and I’m tired of people putting black women in a box. I’m just me.” I would understand something like that, but no. She went and said, “I’m fair-skinned….I’m international.”
It’s no secret that the fashion industry can get pretty stupid when it comes to black women or any woman of color. And I can understand wanting to avoid the pitfalls that come with fighting for a single spot in the show because a designer honestly feels they only need ONE black girl.
But how freaking DARE YOU sit there, with a dark-skinned model sitting next to you, and Naomi Campbell in the room (a woman who is a walking talking modeling legend, dark skin and all) and fix your mouth to say black skin is not international.
F-Y-freaking-I, there are black women all over the damn globe being fabulous. There have been black women of various shades breaking down all sorts of barriers so a a black girl could even dream about pursuing roles and jobs that decades ago they would have been laughed at for.
Black skin is international because a black woman can go anywhere she pleases. We do not need a passport to carry blackness from one place to another.
And to whom it may concern, this is why posts about recognizing the importance and feminine beauty of DARK SKINNED women is so freaking necessary. Because some light-skinned women apparently are not afraid to get on national damn TV and act a fool, and help further the stigma against being perceived as black, and especially, as dark-skinned.
If you are a WOC and you don’t self-identify as black, that is your right and that is your business. I don’t hate or shade you. But if you fix your mouth to put down existing as a black, notably dark-skinned woman, you have issues you need to sort out. And in reality, the fashion industry is not the best place to do so. Because like it or not, they will take one look at you and say, “Sorry, we don’t want any black girls. Next!”
These barriers get broken down not by cooperation, but by acknowledgement and pushing back.