The Colour of Beauty

17 minutes 6.2/10 based on 27 votes

According to a 2008 survey, the models in the New York Fashion Week were: 6% Black 6% Asian 1% Latina 87% White
The Colour of Beauty is a shocking short documentary that examines blatant racism in the fashion industry. Apparently, from the industry’s perspective, the black girls who are featured need to look exactly like white girls only that they are painted black.

Renee Thompson is a 24 year old model trying to make it as a top fashion model in New York. She’s got the looks, the walk and the drive. She has been modeling for 10 years around the world and has experienced some degree of success but her dream is to hit the NY Fashion Week runway and become the next big thing. A dream that seems almost impossible at times as door after door gets slammed in her face, all because she’s black.

Renee feels that she is constantly under scrutiny over something she can do nothing about. What’s even worse is the fact that clients expect the black models to be literally flawless– a higher standard than what is set for caucasian models.

Is it possible that in the 21st Century, beauty still has a colour?

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  • Maker

    Long story short, there are plenty of black models but the industry is short on influential black designers. Notable black designers have to start popping up and their brands featured in mainstream fashion shows. Sometimes a job is best done if I do it myself.

    • Oppa Lumpa

      Oh yeah. DUH. Why did no one think of this? It’s not like the same racism keeping black models from the industry is also blocking the success of black designers…

  • truth teller

    The fashion industry is shallow, this is a surprise why?! So your saying it’s ok to judge someone based on how they look but not if those looks are derived from racial characteristics? They’re aren’t many obese or short supermodels either- go figure. It has nothing to do with race, just a pathetic notion of what the ‘ideals’ of beauty are. If belonging to a particular race or creed means you’re less likely to hold those ‘ideals’ than that sucks for you but it’s not racism. These people don’t care where your from, just what you look like. The creator of this documentary is as shallow and vein as the people she critiques. Waste of time.

    • Damien

      My thoughts exactly. How utterly hypocritical…

    • hernandayoleary

      I disagree that is is not racist, but agree it is shallow. Understand that the fashion industry is based out of places that are largely non white like nyc and london. It is racism because they will paint a white person black just to avoid hiring a black person. It is like Hollywood saying you need a black actor, so you just paint all Brad Pitt white and don’t hire denzel or will smith.

      Most people in the fashion industry are extremely liberal, and it is largely gay and bisexual dominated. To many people from liberal areas who haven’t figured out liberals can be racist too, it just strikes them as bizarre that liberal industries can be racist too. Well guess what Porno and fashion are the two most liberal industries and they are also the most racist. You won’t hear smith and wesson won’t hire black people because they have a preference for whites, or most our clients are white so we only hire whites.

      And how is it that latina look all that different than whites? Has it ever occured to you that many latinas are not all that different looking from whites in terms of facial features. So even the argument that it is a certain “look” holds no weight because entire ethnic groups with the “look” are excluded because they are not european descent.

      Even if you believe the argument they are selling mostly to whites, you need to get your head checked. Minorities consume clothing at a rate 2-3 times there representation in the population. NYC largest ethnic group is black americans. LA is majority minority city. There is no basis for the claim that they are doing it to suit clients, whites are a minority in fashion and clothing industry.

    • Oppa Lumpa

      Pot calling the kettle back… Who do you think sets these ‘pathetic’ beauty ideals in society? The fashion industry.

  • Blah

    These girls are just playing the race card to deny the fact they don’t have what it takes to make it to the top. Boo hoo.

    • Oppa Lumpa

      Nah you’re just racist as well.

  • alex

    LOL she’s a model???? the fashion world must not be shallow enough

  • Moni,moni

    Unfortunately, African countries do not pay models big bucks. I am sure models in China are mainly be Chinese and in India they are mainly be Indians and so the list goes on. Why shouldn’t a country which sell predominately to whites have mainly white models? If the New York fashion industry does not pay their models so much, there will be no grouse like that. Anyway the fashion industry is a high waste industry. I used to give away bags of clothes every year and I have learnt not to be so wasteful. I am doing my bit to reduce pollution.

    • CurlyFUCKINGsue

      do you know how racist you sound .. js smh

  • Armchairshrink

    While racial bias is clearly present, there is more than that going on here. As some have pointed out, the designers sell mainly to a very wealthy white clientele so using models that appeal to them makes good business sense.

    This model is ridiculously OLD to expect to begin a career as a top runway model & she is not that beautiful or unique looking. These agencies seek out girls who are barely adolescent (13-14) in order to get the maximum amount of career time out of them: this is a job for the very young with few exceptions- & even they began in their teens. The runway dictates that the models be extremely tall & very thin. It is what it is. A white wanna be model with thick hips & heavy thighs would be told to go lose some weight. We can debate the problematic aspects of imposing extreme thinness on young girls but this is high fashion runway modeling: not an accounting firm.

    • Oppa Lumpa

      Like the girl said in the documentary, this whole notion that only white models can sell to white people notion is a crutch… an excuse. Nothing else has ever been tried before on a big scale so how would we know that’s true?

  • To begin with, the fashion industry has an extremely warped view of what “beauty” is, and the cold, hard truth is that the people who buy high end designer clothes are generally very wealthy. The latter translates to an almost exclusively ethnically European clientele who are perceived as feeling “more comfortable” buying from “their own kind”… Those two factors are primarily responsible for the line up we see on the runway.

    Yes, women of African heritage are discriminated against in the fashion industry. So, too, are all women of statistically average height and weight, and who are old enough to legally sign their own contracts when they begin their careers. It is an industry that is, in fact, PREDICATED on discrimination. Why would anyone be surprised they’d be racist as well as sizeist, lookist, and ageist?

  • thatguy

    whats with boney lanky looking girls being used to sell stuff. they look like someone jabbed a straw into them and sucked all the good bits out. ive always found clothes models to be kinda scarey. like some creepy alien species is infiltrating us, with their wierdass clothes. by the way, im a guy who really has no opinion on fashion industry i just see that comments box and cant help myself. also i like bananas.

  • Leerwesen

    Renee shouldn’t apologize to anyone – her face looks stunning, and she is super skinny. It’s clear race is a factor as to why she hasn’t gotten right to the top but is still making a good living off of it. “White girls painted black” sums it up, and it is VERY messed up!

  • darin

    i’m a 50 year old white male. The biggest problem with the fashion industry is they have lost touch with what people want and only think what they want or what they perceive people want. Or am i getting this wrong your selling fashion not girls right. The industry is a very small group of people that are kind of like inbreeds and what the people want is no concern of theres. The rich snob that sit at a show are not the ones they manly sell too, there the ones they try to impress but that is were they go wrong. Beauty is beauty it not in the eye of the beholder it is what it is, black, asian or white when the fashion industry get that things may change. Renee is beautiful how about you go for beautiful girls! you will cover allot more bases. Look at your market see where the most money is spent, even Justin Beber knows that, ok heres a clue the people that buy the magazines. No still haven’t got it have you! YOUNG GIRLS. And being young they usually don’t have the same built up raciest crap in there heads that the more small minded have (hay banana boy) just give the majority want the 5% have not got a clue, and if you go into there homes and the tac they put in them you would see that.

  • shinyboy

    a biased documentary. lol…

    look at adverts/billboards/ (specifically in the USA/UK) they are set to demographics & the culture & race that habitates it coinciding area… The race thing is boring at this point regarding many issues… For every 1 side of a coin, there’s a view/projection that a finger can be pointed to find something to criticize it’s opposite… Adverts & mass marketing/media is a demon of L.C.D. noise in general… and the modeling/fashion business a pathetic industry of egos & worthlessness to humanity… So if one is to swim in the midst of an egoist pathetic swamp of pursuit… whining is a yawn. Grab a pacifier & drop the needle on a lullabye.

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