A week ago, 21-year-old South Sudanese-Australian model Nyadak “Duckie” Thot, a former contestant on Australia’s Next Top Model, went viral for an honest, moving Instagram post that tackled the challenges of working with natural hair in the fashion industry, something that’s a lot harder than it should have to be.
It all started with a campaign for Australian brand Dinosaur Designs. Duckie was asked to wear her natural hair for the shoot and she wasn’t eager to do it. "I've never really had a good experience with my natural hair and modeling in Australia before," she wrote. "I remember on [Australia’s Top Model] on one of the episodes I had to cornrow my own hair. I was extremely upset and embarrassed that they 'didn't know how' to cornrow my natural hair when at the end of the day that's their job."
Numerous Black models have had to deal with hairstylists who insist they don’t know how to work with natural hair, and they often have to bring their own makeup to supplement makeup artists who don’t come prepared with cosmetics for varying skin tones. Even Naomi Campbell has spoken about having to do her own makeup for a show. Naomi F**king Campbell! Supermodels like Jourdan Dunn and Victoria’s Secret Angel Leomie Anderson have also spoken out about the issue.
Unfortunately, Duckie didn’t just have to deal with unprofessionalism and cruelty on set. Her post was sparked by a rude comment from Winnie Harlow, the highly successful Black model who’s also a Top Model alum (she was also heavily featured in the Lemonade videos). She posted one of the Dinosaur Design campaign photos, captioning the image with, "LMFAO! WHAT ARE THOOOOOSEEEEE cauliflower ass head." She has since deleted the image and followed it up with an “apology.” It’s not great.
But Duckie’s post responded to Harlow perfectly. "It's not fun being bullied for something you can't control and to have a top model woman of color who I thought encouraged acceptance and self love call me out for rocking my natural hair isn't cool at all," she wrote.
In an interview with Teen Vogue, Duckie elaborated on what it’s like to be on set with unprepared hairstylists and makeup artists. "Really, it's the little things that a girl notices when she's sitting in the makeup chair,” she said. “Like when the makeup artist pulls out their palette and they've got 20 different shades of foundation for a white girl, but only have four ‘darker’ shades. Then, I'm awkwardly sitting there thinking ‘none of that matches my skin whatsoever.’”
“It’s those type of situations that [Black models] are put in and not catered to,” she continued. “That shouldn’t be our responsibility to uphold or something we need to go the extra mile every single time for on a job. But unfortunately, that’s the case. By constantly challenging and pushing at [these discrepancies], I hope we will eventually make a difference.”
We hope so too. And fashion: hire and train your people better. And maybe bring in some more Black hairstylists and makeup artists? This should not be a problem that anyone has to deal with.
(Photo: Duckie Thot via Instagram)
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