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Alexa Curtis

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Waiting for Change

Posted: 10/23/2013 11:58 am

As I take my seat inside Lincoln Center, I open up the brochure on my seat (like I do before every show) to get the background on what inspired the designer to create the collection. The lights come up, and the models begin to walk down the runway to the beat of the high pitched and fast-paced music. I look around to see the crowd with wide eyes, excited to see the next design come out from behind the runway. Instead of taking note of the beautifully crafted and bedazzled clothing under the beaming white lights, I notice something else: The lack of diversity in the models wearing the clothes throughout this designer's collection.

White girl after white girl parade down the runway in a march of something that should be named something like "white girls attack." I continue to wait for the black models to come out from behind the stage, but only see one Asian girl walk down the runway. As I gather my belongings and stand up after the designer walks out from behind the stage and the crowd roars in applause, I'm left with one question in mind: Where are the black models?

Season after season, the fashion industry finds itself brought back to the same issue we faced in previous seasons: casting directors picking a specific race of model to walk down the catwalk. With agencies hiring girls of all races to be signed, why are barely half of them walking in fashion week? Do people call these designers out for purposely picking white models to walk down the runway? Yes! As a matter of fact, casting directors speak out (quite publicly) about this controversial issue, and make a case to distinguish the different designers that pull this move every season. The difference is that people can say whatever they want, but the issue is that nothing changes. Top supermodel Jourdan Dunn recently tweeted that she was cut from the Dior show because her breasts are too large, and made a point in the tweet to say "she is usually cut because she is black, so her breasts are a minor." A beautiful and young 23-year-old success like Jourdan shouldn't feel oppressed by being eliminated from fashion week.

This past week, designer Jason Wu casted five non-white girls in his show, which was a major relief, and had the rest of the audience and country watching and waiting to see this trend in the other shows. Jason was one of the few designers to cast that many black girls in his show, and it's embarrassing to speak out about this topic in 2013. With a black president and first lady, it's hard not to see a move for change. Seeing diversity on the runway would give the industry and audience proof that change is coming, and a small glimmer of hope that we are still waiting to get even a sneak peak of.

There are also the designers (who will remain unnamed) that believe including one or two black girls in the show will make sure that the designer and their casting agency is excluded from the negative attention that would come if they didn't cast one black girl. How much longer will it be before designers aren't casting black models because they feel forced to, and instead because they want to? If a designer feels like he/she HAS to include a black girl to avoid negativity, there is an obvious problem, and unless more people stand up and take a stand for the minority, nothing will change. No one in life graduates to an all-white world, and especially not in the fashion industry. Is boycotting buying the designers clothes the only way to get the message of change across?

 
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