While the fashion and beauty industries have made some much-needed strides towards inclusion in recent years, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and model Londone Myers just perfectly illustrated one of the biggest problems women of color still face. In a time-lapse video taken backstage during Paris Fashion Week and posted to her Instagram, Londone sits alone, overlooked by stylists who don’t know how to handle her hair.
“I don’t need special treatment from anyone,” Myers writes in the caption. “What I need is for hairstylists to learn how to do black hair. I’m so tired of people avoiding doing my hair at shows. How dare you try to send me down the runway with a linty busted afro. We all know if you tried that on a white model you’d be #canceled If one doesn’t stand we all fall. If it isn’t my fro it’ll probably be yours.”
Sure, it’s a win to see more Black models on the runway, and the fact that every single New York Fashion Week show featured at least two models of color this season is an important (and long overdue) milestone. But what’s the point of it all if there’s unequal treatment happening backstage?
“I was just so frustrated with how people would avoid even looking at me,” Myers told Teen Vogue of the experience. “I usually do my hair before every show, but this time I just showed up without anything on hand like everyone else.”
Myers said she was given no explanation and that the “three or four” other Black models on set received similar treatment. It’s unknown which designer Myers was walking for at the time, but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s an industry-wide epidemic, not just an isolated incident. Model Leomie Anderson recently spoke out via Twitter about similar experiences she’s had backstage: “I remember when I was younger and I wasn’t saying anything, I’d be going down the runway with my face looking grey, I’d be crying backstage because nobody wanted to do my hair.” Models including Duckie Thot, Nykhor Paul, and even Tyra Banks have also told similar stories.
How many women have to speak out about the unfair treatment they’ve received from designers, casting directors, hairstylists, and makeup artists before the industry gets its act together? Perhaps we’ve been too quick to pat designers on the back for finally including non-white and plus-size models in their shows. Because until they are willing to provide the services necessary (note that there are a host of hairstylists who specialize in styling naturally-coarse hair and many makeup lines offering shades for darker skin tones) for all models to look and feel great, “inclusion” isn’t what’s really happening.