By Julia Datt aka This Model Eats A Lot
Women come in every shade of skin colour: from deep ivory to pale alabaster and everything in between. This Model Eats A Lot looks at skin colour trends around the world, and why the grass is always browner (or whiter) on the other side.
Here in Australia with our glistening beaches and outdoor culture, we love our blondes with brown skin – tanned to an inch of perfection, with the lines to prove it. Instagram accounts dedicated to tanning oils have hoards of followers to prove the obsession is not just a phase, with snap-happy users clambering to be featured on the popular accounts, thus initiated into the coveted ranks of the cool.
In the last 10 years, the Australian modelling industry is slowly cottoning onto models of other ethnic backgrounds, rather than just your traditional True Blue, caucasian Aussie sheila. With the notion of ‘Australian’ gradually changing, it’s refreshing to see Asian beauties Shanina Shaik and Kelly Gale transforming the international scene and returning home to Australia to front some of fashion’s biggest campaigns.
The obvious itch to scratch however is: would these girls have been so celebrated in Australia had they not killed it overseas? Is Australia a homogenous market, still slow to adopt other nationalities apart from Caucasian and the occasional African model?
One apparent rule is that naturally dark skin is acceptable, as long as you have the discerning tradeoff of light eyes. Take Sharina Gutierrez for example: bestie of Shanina Shaik. Both the girls are almost identical in appearance and name – the difference being one has green eyes, the other brown. One is represented by IMG Worldwide and is a celebrated Victoria’s Secret model. The other was relatively unknown and has only just been signed by DNA after being seen for a while with the right people. Seems uncanny, right?
As underlying as the racism may seem in Australia, it’s a lot more obvious in Asian countries such as China, who have a blatant preference for either Caucasian models, or native models who sport ‘non-Asian’ characteristics such as bigger eyes or a larger nose. In Japan, the Miranda Kerr craze is such an epidemic that ordinary women undergo painful, expensive surgery to be transformed into the likeness of the supermodel.
There are some companies bravely taking a stand in the fight against racism. Clothing giant Benetton has for years fronted interesting looking models from all ethnicities as part of their ‘United Colours of Benetton’ campaigns, while Desigual has gone one step further and recruited model Chantelle Winnie, smashing long-ingrained societal perceptions of beauty.
What’s so special about Chantelle? She has vitiligo (a medical condition where one’s skin is both dark and fair and often results in patterns or splotches) and refuses to undergo any treatment to make the colour of her skin uniform, preferring to embrace her individuality and rise to the top of the brutal fashion circuit by being exactly who she is. In a world where everyone is conforming to be the right shade of accepted, THAT’s a cool chick.
Then we have my own experiences as an Aussie-Indian girl modelling in Mumbai for nearly five years. It was 2010, my hair was subtly balayaged, my olive skin burnished a deep brown from the Aussie sun. My agency freaked, made me dye my hair black and loaded me up with a skin whitening product called ‘Fair and Lovely’, to be applied twice a day. I was indignant, but couldn’t disobey if I wanted to get work. Thus began the days of avoiding the sun (and the start of a serious Vitamin D deficiency).
Within a year, I started rebelling against what was considered beautiful and presenting myself exactly the way I really was. And guess what – I haven’t looked back!
Don’t forget to follow @thismodeleatsalot on Instagram and check out thismodeleatsalot.com for diet tips, food news and restaurant reviews.
I’d love to hear your experiences either as aspiring models or just girls who are proud of their ethnicity and won’t change for the world!
This Model Eats A Lot xx