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“…you risk being labelled the angry black girl” – Nykhor Paul talks to Style.com on Her Viral Instagram Message on Racism in Modelling

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Nykhor Paul - BellaNaija - July2015

A few weeks back, South-Sudanese model, Nykhor Paul wrote a message on her Instagram page touching on the sensitive issue of racism and colourism in the fashion industry.

That message went on to resonate with models, makeup artists and pretty much all of social media who then started to discuss the very prominent issue and how severe it can get when it comes to colourism and racism in modelling. Models like Mulan Itoje, Nigerian makeup artists like Joy Adenuga and more have also spoken on the issue, and now, we get to hear from Nykhor herself.

In an interview with Style.com, Nykhor talks about her stirring Instagram post. She also talks on what inspired it, the impact it has had and more.

Read excerpts below;

***

On why she posted the message about racism in the fashion industry
I’ve been in this industry for a long time, so it wasn’t one thing that set it off. It’s been a constant battle. It’s not just the makeup; it’s not just black models not getting booked. Dealing with all the makeup issues, skin issues, hair issues, it makes you feel inadequate, especially when you’ve come to work geared up and ready to do your job as a mannequin. This is not just something I’m going through—a lot of girls are going through this.

Nykhor Paul - BellaNaija - August 2015

On if she anticipate the reaction it got?
I certainly didn’t think it would get so much attention. [After posting the Instagram], I woke up the next day and saw the comments—some of them made me so sad. I just started crying, because that people reacted this way speaks to the fact that there is something larger going on. People have been afraid to speak up.

Does she think there will ever be a solution to lack of diversity and racism in the fashion industry?
I don’t know what the solution is, but I do feel people need to expand their idea of what black models can do. Black beauty can be Chanel, black beauty can be Dior, it can be Lancôme and all those things. Clients can have a narrow definition of beauty, but so can agencies. I was turned down like crazy by London agencies because they’re like, “Oh, we already have a dark girl like you.” Then I’d look it up and see that she was nothing like me at all. There is still the idea that if you have two dark girls, they are interchangeable. When you have a board of a hundred girls and only a handful are minorities, there is something wrong.

On what the best thing to come out of her post was/is
I think the best thing that has happened is that it creates a healthy dialogue. That is the only thing that I want, a conversation, and not a racist one or an antagonistic one. People are talking about it in Kenya, in Brazil, in South Africa and Spain. There are girls who have written me, telling me that this is an issue they face daily, and if I can provide a voice for those dark-skinned girls and this issue, I’m happy to. Part of the reason I think people were so reluctant to speak up is because you risk being labeled the angry black girl. This has been going on since the days of Bethann Hardison, Iman, Alek Wek, Naomi [Campbell]: The issue isn’t new, but I’m hoping to see more change now. We’re in a time when people are more conscious and more aware of the realities.

Read more from her interview with Style.com here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jason Carter Rinaldi | Style.com/Red Models

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

10 Comments

  1. bruno fierce

    August 10, 2015 at 11:51 am

    that one thing about society. society doesnt like an opinionated person. society doesnt like someone who speaks the hot truth. if u speak the bitter truth regularly, society will demonise u. They will label u as an angry person or a person who is mental and need help or a person who is bitter with life. society will potray the person as angry just so as to discredit them so people wouldn’t listen to the truth the person is speaking. they did it to lauryn hill when she constantly spoke against child molestation in the Catholic Church. they branded her a bitter angry black woman.

    even here in the bellanaija comment section. I speak the bitter truth everyday but u people always try to demonise me by saying I need help or im bitter. u people always try to brand me as a bitter person or mental people because i speak that painfully truth bluntly and many of u dont want to hear it.

    society hates people who are fearless. society hates people who speak the truth.

    • Beeeee

      August 10, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      From what i have seen on BN, people do notattack you for speaking your mind, because that’s what we do every time we comment right? People attack you when you say things like “all you heterosexuals do this or that”…. I am using that example because that is what I have had an issue with you on. You have also said things which I have agreed with.. You have to admit that you say some mean things here and people respond to you based on that. As in, do you expect a hug when you have just insulted someone….lol…I love you anyway…

    • Tunmi

      August 10, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Bruno has a point. When I first started seeing his comments, some folks did call him so. The saddest is on the lgbt+ posts. Others readily throw out insults but since the majority are of the same mindset, it flies.

  2. bruno

    August 10, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    heterosexuals molest and rape children the most, is it a lie. a study of 300 child molestation cases, 297 of those cases the child molester was heterosexual. so explain how I am bitter. I have presented u will a study. I have given u evidences. u can not counter it so u say I’m bitter or angry.

    u heterosexuals have rape culture its the truth. how many women get raped every year by heterosexual men?
    bill cosby
    r kelly. to name a few.

    ” You have also said things
    which I have agreed with.. ”

    oh please, u only like it when some one speaks in ur favour. if I start praising nigerian pastors im sure u will like me. nonsense.

    I speak the hit truth backed up with evidence and many of don’t like it thats why u start to get personal. “bruno need help” BITCHES PLEASE

    I speak against child molestation in the Catholic Church and all of u reply bruno needs help

    I speak against discrimination. discrimination based on gender race and sexuality. bruno is aick and needa help

    I speak against how nigerian pastors are sucking ignorant nigerians dry, bruno ia sick and needs jesus.

    toke makimwa is wearing a hideous dress and I point that out “toke that dress ur qearing is very ugly”. what do u people say, bruno is full of bile.

    I watched a horrible nigerian tv show on ebony life and I blast it for what it is and immediately u people say “bruno is bitter”

    u people dont like hearing the truth. u will prefer sugar coated comment. sorry, I do not sugar coat. deal with it.

    society doesn’t like people like myslef who have strong opinions.

    • fd62kola

      August 10, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      “u people dont like hearing the truth. u will prefer sugar coated comment. sorry, I do not sugar coat. deal with it.”

      u kinda reap what u sow don’t u think? u sow d “bitter/unsugar-coated” truth, u get bitter/unsugar-coated whips of ppls opinions on ur mental and social stability

    • MEE

      August 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Heterosexuals ke?? you’re basing your judgement on just one study..Come on man, we have a whole world of how many billion people, you should be better than this. Besides, some studies are carried out for a specific reason, to prove a specific point, so yes they would find data to prove exactly that point. And I honestly think people who molest children, as defenceless as they are, are another brand of some sick sexuality, they’re paedophiles, not heterosexuals .

      Also, it only makes sense for heterosexual men to rape women cos that’s what they are attracted to. Homosexual men wouldn’t be homosexual if they raped women. If that happens, they have been cured. You don’t have to be so quick in your judgements, and your comments are lined with hate filled ignorance. It’s the ignorance bit that annoys me the most. You sound so much like Bisi Alimi.

      I understand that the church shouldn’t be a place where atrocities such as child molestation should happen. But it’s made up of human beings just like you. Same goes with the pastors, just cos they’re pastors doesn’t mean they can’t fall as well. Don’t forget that, we were all given free will man. I’m not approving of the wrong things they do, that’s just wrong. But don’t pull down the entire system cos of a few… We are meant to worship God, not men, not pastors.

  3. Beeeee

    August 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Oh my goodness Bruno, have a wonderful day abeg….and keep deceiving yourself by thinking you are disliked because of your strong opinions and while you’re at it, google all the cases on homosexual rape since you are backing things up with evidence…my comment was supposed to be light hearted but you have turned it into something else…please, enjoy your opinionated life…..See, there are ways to get your point across without being insulting people, you know, the way adults do it.

    • Beeeee

      August 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      * without insulting people*

  4. chichi

    August 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    LOL…Trust Bruno to make this about him…”Bruno needs jesus”, “needs help”, “is bitter/angry”. So ppl on this blog make you feel like your case is that deep? I know you love it when ppl say that. You are simply an attention seeker. You’d say or do ANYTHING to gain ppls attention.
    “Look at me. It’s Bruno, its bruno fierce, its bruno bitches…hey, over here..LOOK AT ME”
    You have been noticed once again. Now go to bed you basic human being. Opinionated my ass!

  5. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    August 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I read about Iman’s story where she experienced the same problem this lady had back in the days. She never complained but learnt how to mix and apply her make herself and now she owns her own make up line. When life throws you lemon make lemonade.

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