Sunday, 25 May 2014

It Doesn't Matter If You're Black Or White

One of the most common questions I get asked by a bride-to-be is, ‘what is my signature look?’ I have looked through my portfolio and tried to find the answer, however I was pleasantly surprised to reminisce over the last few years and am proud to say I don’t have a signature style or a certain type of client.

I did notice that in the last couple of years my client range has widened dramatically - from the palest of porcelain skin right through to the deepest chocolate hues. I really enjoy working on weddings of all ethnicities and I would like to take the time to say thank you to all my brides and all future brides-to-be for giving me the opportunity to learn and understand more about their culture and traditions.

My take on this is that I don't want a signature look because that means all my clients would end up looking the same to some extent. I would prefer to be recognised as the artist who gives the client what they want and what suits them.

One of my main questions I ask a client is if they would like me to match the foundation to their natural skin tone or to go slightly darker or lighter. I ask this purely because everyone has their own preferences to how they want to look.

I see countless girls wearing the wrong foundation colour. In MAC talk, you get the NC15 attempting to match her fake tan by using NC45, but just ends up looking like an oompa loompa. Then the NC45 applying a NC30 but ends up looking like the corpse bride. It's not a good look, God made you a certain way for a reason, embrace your natural self. Too many girls are changing themselves to fit an unrealistic image that is portrayed in the media.

Photographer: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Society and media tries to tell us what is 'beautiful' and try to implant this early on in life. Our culture can really impact the way someone feels about themselves. Take for instance the crowning of the latest Miss America, Nina Davaluri. Had she been a contestant in India the outcome probably would've been different as she may have been considered too dark and not pretty in some people’s eyes. Hello!!! She is Indian, she is meant to be brown! But again, that is culture manipulating our minds into thinking what they want us to believe. The Bollywood songs constantly harmonise on the beautiful girl who has skin like a white girl - this is not an exact translation but you get the gist of it.

It is the culture we have been brought up in that makes this judgement about skin colour and beauty. In countries such as India and Africa lighter skin is associated with wealth. The working class are out in the blazing heat all day and get darker, whereas the rich are out of the sun sitting inside, and thus this connection is made. It's all a bit ludicrous in my eyes, but if I stayed inside all day I would still be brown and I wouldn't be getting any lighter. I would, however, end up with a Vitamin D deficiency.

Unfortunately the industry and the mentality of people have been this way for a while, and whilst most just like to exist in it and let it be, I won't. Some questions that I've come across whilst being in this industry are 'Why do so few adverts in the UK not represent the Asian community?' and 'Why are European models advertising products and services that are predominantly targeted at Asian clients?' I find myself questioning these too.

As a medium skin toned girl myself, personally looking at make-up products on a model who is not representing my skin colour seems a bit irrelevant, I can't really relate to it. Thinking from a client's point of view, I would automatically jump to the conclusion that, the product advertised suits the model in the campaign because of her complexion. I have heard clients say that very line, and it's a shame that the medium to dark skinned clients are not represented to their full capability.

There is nothing ugly about dark skin. The only ugly thing is the mentality of people who believe that, and the people working in this industry who constantly put out products and services representing only lighter skinned models. Why is it that when the beauty sections in magazines (both Asian and non-Asian) feature an article of what products suit light, medium and dark skin tones, still tend to show the lighter versions of medium and dark skin on their models? Why is it that each time there is an uproar about skin lightening or photoshopping skin tones in the media it gets phased out and ignored again?

Queen B on two different covers, Joy Magazine, chose to lighten her skin colour whilst Glamour Magazine used the same image but showed a darker complexion. 

And why have we not yet seen a dark skinned model representing Asian bridal make-up? Well that last question triggered me to get shooting a set of bridal looks that truly represent darker skintones and to prove to anyone who thinks dark skin is not attractive…. well I beg to differ. Have a look at my photoshoot and let me know what you think?

Credits: Airbrush Make-up, Hair Styling & Styling by Ganga Bhambra
Outfits: Both White and Ivory Dress provided by The Bridal Rooms, in Lichfield
Photography: Jayesh Pankhania

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