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“It’s Hurtful” – Black Model, Mulan Itoje Speaks on Nykhor Paul’s Open Letter to “Racist Fashion Industry”



Nyhor Paul and Mulan Itoje - BellaNaija - July2015

Nykhor Paul | Mulan Itoje

Do you think the fashion industry is racist?

In BBC World‘s “World Have Your Say” feature, they re-visit Nykhor Paul‘s open letter to international makeup artists who she thinks are racist. In her letter she talks about how the are never prepared when it comes to a black model and usually ask her to bring her own foundation etc when coming for a shoot, but never ask the Caucasian models to do the same.

Now, black model – Mulan Itoje is also sharing her thoughts on the issue. In her argument, she says she experiences the same issue when it comes to the runway and shoots. She recalls makeup artists always using Vaseline to highlight her skin just because she’s black, even though products to use in highlighting are available.

Read below;

You can’t really match different tones of white foundation to get black foundation, so even if you mix and match for a Caucasian model, you can’t really do the same for me if you actually don’t even have anything that is remotely similar to my shade. And I have my makeup cause I always bring it anyway and the same goes with hair that I will  just always bring a wig or wear a weave; and it’s like black girls always wear a weave and well we have to. If you have your natural hair no one is going to be able to do it, so you have to wear weaves.

As soon as you start saying anything about what is preferred on your skin tone, or your type of hair, all of a sudden “oh, she’s got an attitude”, so you just have to keep quiet and take it. And in terms of highlighting, it’s not like a black person will have a different face shape from a white person, the highlight can be on the same face shape. Face shape varies not based on the colour, so the highlight will always be on the same place, but what you don’t need to do is use Vaseline to highlight everything on a black person which is all everyone is constantly using Vaseline, Vaseline, Vaseline, like “oh yeah, Vaseline on a black person”.

How is it that I can buy a product for a Caucasian model for 17 pounds from L’Oreal to highlight and not look as greasy as Vaseline but for me all that’s left for me is Vaseline. I just keep quiet. It’s hurtful but then you’re friend with these girls and they don’t they don’t understand the pain because they’re not going through it, there’s no point in dwelling on the negative, and you know you’re always going to look as good as everyone else anyway so just be positive.

Listen below;


Other models and makeup artists have also commented on Nykhor’s open letter. Read Joy Adenuga‘s thoughts on racism in the fashion industry.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jason Carter Rinaldi

Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at) or style(at) | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle


  1. Mewe

    July 23, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Have you not seen the video where our president talked about inclusiveness in govt? Or you’re just forming peacock? Kontinu

  2. mimi

    July 23, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Looooll….Joy Adenuga is known in the UK black community to only use mostly white models in her work just in her undying, die hard quest to fit in and be acknowledged by the white community. …She is the least qualified person in my opinion to discuss this issue. Her preference of white models further the stereotype of racism even though it is projected by a black person.

  3. Fatima

    July 23, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I agree…..also note that Joy always runs black to the black community to publish her articles and for award nomination. They still no send her. loooll. They talk about it behind her back.

  4. Diddy

    July 23, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    what pain is that,enough of this bullshit abeg,we all faces challenges in life be it tribalism,nepitism,racism,so what keeps u going is how u face it

  5. truedat

    July 24, 2015 at 3:08 am

    Certainly yes to an extent…i once went to a casting call for Loreal in North America and was informed at my prompting that “there is not a lot of demand for my hair type.” Yup! Girl, I had on braids. Well, thats the reality but the worst part is when your time is wasted and you fool yourself thinking let me just do this differently or betteryet try harder…kinda like racism when we pretend it doesnt exist for peace to reign. It is what it is – capitalism, racism, tribalism, inequality, supremacy. Its the world of majority vs minority!

    • fleur

      July 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      It’s not even a majority-minority issue. It’s about who is the majority in decision making places. Sigh

  6. IjawGeh

    July 24, 2015 at 3:35 am

    No! No! No! “Don’t leave on the negative”. (I honestly do not like to type an essay and post as a comment, But when necessary, I would gladly make my thumbs a pipe through which the black inks flow, and my keypad the paper) There’s a difference btw letting go of the negative and suppressing it. Suppressing it is trying to ignore it, when it’s gradually chopping into your standards, what you believe in and who You are as a person, You put it below You, it’s still there until You let it go. Until You throwwayrit! The wrong, very wrong mistakes people make is using positive feelings/words to cover up things like this .. It just kills You the more! Letting it go is pushing up your beliefs about what is right up above! and moving away from it. Though, You’ve taken a starting step by speaking up, and letting others of your kind hear You. However, Speaking up isn’t basically going to the public and letting the public know this is what’s up over there.. This is where You should learn to define yourself as an individual.. Those agencies, do they own You? Must You remain under them? Is the runway all about leaving who you are and fitting into the society trends? When the going gets tough and You can see for yourself that the people on there in charge of the affairs have a clearly different opinion from what You consider right, it’s time to move away.. I want everyone reading through this to understand that You Are More Than Enough On Your Own. (I don’t mean You needn’t people’s ideas and assistance to grow, You do. But when it isn’t in line with Your standards, beliefs, all that makes You up as an individual You move away) Speak up like I earlier pointed out : You sure can move away from all of that. Don’t just speak positive, Let the action convey what You speak. This can be a medium to starting your own modeling agency. To teach and train other upcoming models who might aswell get into this same road. (Kai, I don too type shey? Awe, Soorry I’m there already. Relax) Above all, Self value should be a candle that burns through You. Whoever You are.. If You don’t value Your skin colour, Your pretty big eyes, accent and move to a level that others have to first appreciate it before You can feel / see it, Then pusssh that barrier to Bomadi waterside and let it sink! Self confidence/self value is not being rude or bitchy or being too full of ya shelf. Speak up when You need to. Take charge when You need to. Move away when You need to. Everything else would be easier understood and You won’t have so much confusion and feel any less when You know Who You are.

  7. Eve

    July 31, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Ms Paul , be happy you are a working model. Please stop calling all white people in the fashion industry Racist.
    What has Your country done for you lately??
    It’s you who antagonistic and racist!

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