Nykhor Paul: Don't blacklist me for being honest
Nykhor Paul has slammed the fashion industry for making models feel "sidelined or blacklisted" for speaking out about racism.
The South Sudanese model hit the headlines earlier this month when she blasted make-up artists for turning up unprepared to cater to all skin tones at shows. Nykhor has repeatedly spoken about the lack of diversity on runways and in advertising campaigns and hopes that by being open, she'll encourage other people to get involved in the fight.
"There’s a fear within all of us girls that are modelling… even for me - I don’t want to be labelled as an angry black girl for speaking my truth; I don’t want to not be able to book jobs because I’m speaking about what’s going on,” she told Refinery29. “So, for a lot of people, there’s a fear that you’re going to be sidelined or you’re going to be blacklisted, [even though] it’s a serious issue that in the long run deals with racism.”
In the past, Nykhor has referred to herself as the "black dot" at shows, because she's usually the only black woman among a sea of white people. The lack of models of colour being used is something stars such as Tyra Banks and Jourdan Dunn have spoken out against, but Nykhor doesn't see much changing.
"There are so many black models, every single day they write me, but nobody gives a sh*t… I’m like ‘Hey, wait until I retire, maybe you can take my spot,’" she deadpanned.
The issue is much wider for the model too, as she thinks people often forget how prolific racism is. She sees a "really, really racist and segregated world" before her, and so if she can in some way help fashion at least move on, she'll go for that full pelt.
"I think people who are running these shows have to take off the blindfold and be real. Whoever’s setting the bar needs to open and pave the way for the rest of us,” she said.
Celebrity make-up artist Sir John, who's worked with the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, has backed Nykhor. He has warned other cosmetics professionals to be more prepared when they go to work, insisting there is no reason not to have products for all skin tones.
"It’s almost like being a doctor. You don’t look at bodies and say, ‘Oh, I don’t work on this type or that type,’ you just know that you need to go to work. And so, if you start to have a hesitation about, ‘Can I handle this or not?’ then you need to go back to school, or start to assist longer and figure out what the needs of today are," he said.