STYLE & BEAUTY
06/20/2011 06:05 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2011

Sao Paulo Fashion Week Protestors Call For 20 Percent Quota Of Black Models

Protestors at this season's Sao Paulo Fashion Week called for a 20 percent quota of indigenous and black models to be used on the event's runways, the Guardian reports.

Back in 2008, the BBC wrote that only 28 out of 1,128 models booked for Sao Paulo Fashion Week that year were black. As one modeling agent said, "The black models can't get jobs and have no access, don't have a good distribution of money or earnings and live in a sub-world, because there are no job opportunities."

And the New York Times reported on the issue last summer, writing, "70 percent of the country's models come from three southern states that hardly reflect the multiethnic melting pot that is Brazil, where more than half the population is nonwhite." Erika Palomino, a fashion consultant in Sao Paulo, told the newspaper, "I was always perplexed that Brazil was never able to export a Naomi Campbell, and it is definitely not because of a lack of pretty women. It is embarrassing."

Organizers previously agreed to a 10 percent quota of black models. But the plan apparently unraveled this time around, with designers ignoring the modish minorities altogether.

Activist Frei Davi Santos explained to the Guardian:

"Sao Paulo fashion week sells the image of a Swiss Brazil where everyone is white and blue-eyed. The organizers...forget that more than half of Brazil's population is black....According to the latest census we blacks represent 50.8% of the Brazilian population. This means an event which presents a majority of people with typically European characteristics does not represent the beauty and wealth of Brazilian ethnicity. Brazil is a country that still insists on emphasizing its European side and discriminating against its beautiful indigenous and Afro-Brazilian populations. We do not want catwalks that look like catwalks in Switzerland or England."

The latest outcry about diversity on the catwalk comes less than a week after Carole White, Premier Model Management founder and Naomi Campbell's former agent, told the Daily Mail that European cities like Milan and Paris were to blame -- "There, they absolutely don't want black girls. A black model has to be a real star before you can take her there. They only take a black girl when the biz is buzzing about her."

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