Tyra Banks, creator of America’s Next Top Model, has spoken in the past about her rivalry with Naomi Campbell. That was the time of the Supermodel, and many big personalities all jostling for position in the modeling world. However, the opportunities for black models were more limited, so Tyra and Naomi were in more direct competition with each other than with the some of the other top models.
And Tyra’s former rival would say that not a whole lot has changed despite the passage of time. Campbell recently spoke out on the topic, telling Kenyan journalists that, “Black models are being sidelined by major modelling agencies.” She went on to say, “It’s a pity that people don’t appreciate black beauty.”
The limited number of black and Asian models on the runways of the recent Fashion Week in New York might have shown evidence of her claim. America’s Next Top Model runway coach J. Alexander says their low numbers are no accident.
Miss J., who was in town to help produce former America’s Next Top Model judge Kimora Lee Simmon’s Baby Phat show, said that the shows have upper limits for the numbers of black models they will use: “two girls, three maximum.”
He also says, “And you normally get one to make it clear that she is obviously dark too so they don’t get any lip from journalists or any backlash for being racist.”
Reuters reporters took note of the number of black or Asian models used in shows, and found that “many top designers chose to employ one or two black models and a few Asians in shows and some had none.”
Reuters found that the Diane von Furstenberg and Miss J.-produced Baby Phat shows were among the exceptions, with greater racial diversity represented by the models walking the runway. However, these were only two out of over 40 shows attended by the Reuters reporters, so it would appear that what Tyra experienced as a young model continues to be a challenge facing some models to this day.
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Sources: Guardian Unlimited, Reuters
(Image courtesy of CW)