Embracing cultural diversity in the Fashion Industry is still in its infancy, even though the trend is growing at an incredible pace, and I believe it should be celebrated as much as possible. Harper’s Bazaar India is currently leading the way with 9 new covers for a special issue showcasing diversity in beauty with Art Direction by Christopher Sollinger. Some of the models featured include Tyra Banks, Hind Sahli – one of the few Muslim models to make it big out of Morocco, and Tracey Africa – the first trans model to have multiple beauty campaigns in the 70’s. Styling is by KC Jones, who brought in Chanel and Roberto Cavalli, both fashion houses who were happy to support this project from the start.
The resulting collaboration is a luxurious and tantalizing fashion photo story that gives you all the feels, then makes you want to also max out your credit cards trying to copy every single one of the looks. In short, it is phenomenal. Scroll all the way down for a link to the full editorial. Note: the link will take you to another page, click the link again to view.
My first memory of being aware of what ‘beautiful’ was supposed to look like happened very young. I was maybe 6 years old and my family was at a dinner party when someone said how lovely my sister’s skin tone was (it was much lighter than mine). I remember being upset because even at that tender age, like many girls I wanted to be beautiful, and that comment told me that somehow I wasn’t. My parents attempt to console me was by mentioning a saying in our language that roughly translates to: ‘Dark-skinned equals God’s favorite’. To me that was the equivalent of saying I had a face only a mother could love.
I realized pretty early on that the beauty standards my Pakistani parents generation grew up with were outdated, completely wrong, and also probably stemmed from some kind of self-hate resulting from British imperialism anyway. There is a difference between intellectually believing something and emotionally feeling it, though. Despite knowing it was wrong, there were still times I felt the pressure to look that way, even trying skin lightening creams, or staying out of the direct sun for fear of getting too tan – even if that meant missing out on my favorite summer activity – swimming.
Truly believing in something also depends on whether or not you actually see it represented in society. It’s like the saying goes: if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. One of my motivations for starting my blog back in 2012 was to represent a different image of what a fashion blogger looks like. It was difficult at first because I started at a time when I didn’t know of one single blogger that was of South Asian descent. Happily, now there are plenty of brown skinned blogger babes out there.
It is said to take 30 years for a new idea to seep into culture. The technology we take for granted like flying in an airplane or using the internet, and stuff we will take for granted soon like self-driving cars, didn’t just happen overnight. So too the cultural revolution in Fashion will happen in time, and collaborations like these will stop being a novelty and actually become the norm. It is only inevitable with the world getting smaller by the day. How fast it happens really just depends on how well we embrace that change. When it does, I for one will be right here standing with arms wide open.
View full editorial: Harper’s Bazaar India Editorial