Black MUAs Are MIA During Fashion Week

March 16, 2022

In October 2021, model Leomie Anderson made headlines across fashion and lifestyle publications for calling out the lack of backstage diversity at New York Fashion Week. “Being a black model is doing other people’s jobs and not being paid for the extra work looool,” she tweeted along with a video sharing her experience.

Fashion’s Worst Kept Secret

Shortly following Anderson’s viral post, which garnered over 3M views on Twitter and TikTok in just four days, several makeup pros echoed her sentiments to Buzzfeed. “This isn’t new really. I’m not shocked,” said Esther Edeme, who gave Anderson one-on-one lessons last year to make sure that she knows how to get herself right in the absence of a professional with the proper skill set backstage.

“These are things that she’s had to train to do, and she shouldn’t have to do any of that,” Edeme continued, “because she would get on set and the other white makeup artists are there with their white talent and they’re fine.”

Anderson’s expose came during what was the second most diverse Fashion Week season on record during which, according to the Fashion Spot, 55.5% of the models walking runways across the city were women of color. Yet somehow, the backstage atmosphere was the same as what model Lameka Fox experienced during Fall/Winter Fashion Week in 2020. “There have been many times where I’d have to touch up my hair and makeup backstage,” she told refinery29. “I’ve had hair and makeup artists get upset with me when that happens, but how can I feel good if I don’t look good? I have a job to do.”

Black MUA’s Matter

A quick look at round-ups of makeup trends at the most recent Fashion Week, like this one shared by Elle, will show you that not much has changed in the wake of Anderson’s post. The fashion world’s increased inclusion and recognition of Black models have not translated to providing them the support they need. But it’s an issue that could easily be remedied if the fashion world would expand its idea of representation.

“It’s so easy to say, ‘Hey, I have one Black model on stage, I’m diverse,’” veteran hairstylist Lacy Redway said, also speaking to Buzzfeed. “But it’s another thing to truly diversify your team in all areas from hair, makeup, lighting, casting directors, and so on. You’re still sweeping true diversity under the rug if the people who are bringing the production to life are all the same.” 

By recognizing the importance of giving models the proper support and resources in every aspect of their work, the fashion world will also finally allow Black women to see themselves fully and properly represented.