Fashion's diversity issue has always bothered me, but it wasn't until I started shooting beauty that my frustration at homogeny became a catalyst. At the time I was working closely with my friend Ananda Khan, a talented hair and makeup artist represented by Big Leo. We kept revisiting the question of what we could do as women in fashion to change the conversation. Thus #BeautyKnowsNoColor was born. It is an ongoing beauty project featuring wormen of every race and background. I want to show that beauty belongs to us all.
I feel it's important to explore and expand our cultural ideas of beauty and value through my work. Fashion is a useful anthropoligical lens to examine a given culture's opinion of individual worth. It can also be a harsh reality check when looking at the present state of media. The worlds of fashion and beauty have worked over the past few years to present a more honest and diverse face to consumers. This shift sprung from economic pressures (activism and empowerment have become central to successful adversitsing), vocal public outrage, and the leadership of an increasingly diverse set of industry leaders (designers, photographers, art directors, ad executive, etc.). That said there is still work to do. It's not enough to show different faces and shapes, we need to evolve in how we discuss and depict them.
This installment of #BeautyKnowsNoColor focuses on curls. It may seem mundane, but research will show how extensively the politics of hair affects women of color. There is an entire market of products claiming to tame or fix curly hair. Ananda and I were both sick of the look from well-meaning strangers who viewed our respective heads of glorious curls like diabolical adversaries that must be vanquished. In part I understand. Difference makes people uncomfortable because it challenges the status quo. Curly hair is an unavoidable and unmistakable badge of otherness. It's big and takes up space. It is not easily controlled. None of these were seen as desirable in women throughout the history of the world. Fighting against one's natural features is time-consuming and self defeating. It fuels the idea we should transform ourselves to be more acceptable to a disapproving society and fund those that benefit from our self-loathing and self-censorship. We wanted to take a different approach and show that regardless of curl pattern, curls, like the rest of us, deserve to be celebrated.