ImanI doubt that there is a sane person on Earth that would look at the statuesque Somalian frame of international supermodel Iman and see anything other than a woman that is simply gorgeous, but according to Iman that’s what she and many other models experienced over years in the modeling industry. Despite being hailed Yves Saint-Laurent’s “dream woman” Iman remembers vividly her anger and frustration from the blatant lack of diversity within the beauty industry.

In an article penned for Women’s Wear Daily Iman recounts showing up to photoshoots and being asked if she, a supermodel whose face graced countless runways and magazines, brought her own makeup. The lack of diversity and consideration became too much to bear for the stunning model so in 1994 she jumped into the business side of beauty by creating her own line of products called Iman Cosmetics specially targeted for woman of color. Iman writes:

“It was more than foundations and powders; it was appealing to a deep psychological need that I think all black women needed at that time: to be told that they were beautiful, invited to sit at the cool table and courted in high style.”

Today, nearly 20 years after the launch of Iman Cosmetics Iman feels that major cosmetics brands are still not embracing diversity and fully tapping into multicultural buying power, an unwise business move that she calls “foolish.”

Personally, I’m a makeup virgin, but simply browsing the rows of product at Sephora, M.A.C and department store beauty counters have shown me that Iman is right in saying that major cosmetics brands are not currently in the business of creating products that fully represent the spectrum of shades women of color come in. Beauty is more than just fair, medium and dark and it’s time that brands opened their eyes and embraced the rainbow.


  • steff

    Its worse over here in the UK, unless you live in the major cities like London or Birmingham black women will always struggle to find makeup suitable for their skin. In my home town there is NO makeup for black women, literally nothing! Im actually doing my dissertation on the UK cosmetic’s industry’s lack of acknowledgement of the black beauty market. Hopefully itl change soon ….

  • jamesfrmphilly

    black women, you ARE beautiful….

  • jamesfrmphilly

    black women don’t need makeup….

  • Skye

    I was watching bravo late at night for RHOA and “Big Rich Atlanta” came on so I glanced at a few scenes. I was appalled there was this white chick who shouted to the audience something about hey look at her she’s a fat black chick who looks better her or me. Honestly felt she wanted to say she’s white but that would have been to upfront and used fat to not just say black chick because their sizes were not different from eachother.

  • Skye

    Sweet Philly but something about that make up that makes you go from cute to bombshell!

  • Tonton Michel

    So black women need make up made for them by white owned companies to feel beautiful? I would think this would be counter productive to developing a health mind and self esteem.

  • jamesfrmphilly


    black women do NOT need make up. that is a LIE taught to you by people who want to SELL you stuff.

    one quick way to check yourself is to ask ‘is somebody making money off this?’ makeup, weaves, all that junk is an INDUSTRY. only thing a woman NEEDS is soap and water.

  • Whiteprivilegeterminated

    1) No, this iman character is not gorgeous. Photoshop image doesn’t help, it just looks like what it is, a CGI. How anyone can look at that shot and see beauty rather than a deeply alienating sterility, is beyond me.

    2) Who is obligated to tell any woman she’s beautiful and why?

    What reward is returned to society for indulging the vanity of narcissists?

    Beauty is in the eye.mind and experience of the beholder, never in the demander.

  • Sylvie

    Sigh. I love Iman. To me she is a beautiful woman inside and out and I miss her original i-iman line! They had a shade of purple lipstick that was flawless.

    There is just something amazing about makeup. It is a wonderful and accessible form of art for every woman. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman accented her features in a way to make her look and feel more beautiful.

  • Tell me it aint so…

    Why are you depending on whites to make makeup for you? You do realize that Blacks are still the minority in the UK right? If there is no makeup for Blacks in your area, how about you make it a duty to contact those companies directly so as to have them consider distributing it in your area? They can’t distribute what they cannot sell and if you are in a predominately white area, this is what is to be expected. Complaining to the white UK government isn’t going to change a thing.

  • EST. 1986

    James: You can keep stating your personal preference, but it doesn’t change the fact that from the time women are little girls, a made-up face is promoted as natural.

  • Jame (@jameane)

    Two words: BB Cream

    It is very annoying not to be able to fid a suitable shade of foundation or concealer.

  • Anon

    Why don’t black women “need” makeup? Everyone else gets makeup! So black women don’t want to play with their looks, follow current trends, have a cute eyeshadow? We ain’t different from ANY other woman. Please stop being 70 years old and telling young women what they “need”.

  • KissOfDanger

    Tonton. I love how you just twisted that around. Stay schemin’.

  • KissOfDanger

    You guys should read the whole article. It is truly a gem. Iman told the truth once again. Black women want to get dolled up just like everyone else. Makeup helps alot especially if you suffer from hyper-pigmentation. When I’m going out or to a nice get together makeup is a must for me. When I have that instant flawless skin I feel like a million bucks. I still have alot of my old battle scars from acne. It ain’t pretty.

    Women have been wearing makeup for centuries you know. I am soo sick of black women being held to a higher “moral” standard that everyone else. That just adds to the stressed we deal with. I’m human dammit.

    @jamesfrmphilly – Enough of this silly belief that black women don’t need makeup. It is not your business to decide what we need or what we should spend out disposable income on.

    @Tonton Michel – The same goes for you. Last time I checked Iman, Black Opal, SACHA Cosmetics, Fashion Fair, Plain Jane Beauty, and a whole litter of makeup companies ARE black owned. Companies don’t have to be black owned for me to buy from them. They just have to cater enough to my dark skin. Avon, Sleek, MARK, Black Radiance, L’Oreal, and Covergirl are doing a good job even though they could do better.

  • chanela17

    funny how a woman who bleached her skin and chopped up her nose is trying to tell black women that they are beautiful… what a great example you’re setting iman!

  • chinaza

    Make-up is part of an individual’s creative and personal expression.It’s also fun to wear! And there are great brands for black skin like Black Opal and Fashion Fair.
    On a serious note, some women also wear makeup to cover scars so you should be sensitive to that and restrain the negative comments around women who wear makeup because you can’t tell.
    And the real problem is that women of all colors need less judgment based on a surface.

  • Chillyroad


    Yes they do. So many of them do.

  • Gina Wild

    I don’t find Iman gorgeous.

  • Chillyroad


    I’ve lived in both Birmingham and London and I still used the major lines like MAC and the store brands that are available everywhere. Now I live in the north east and I haven’t had any problems. Just go to fenicks and get MAC or Bobbi Brown. The problem you will run into is that these people can’t recommend anything for dark skin. I hate talking to them when I go.

    I just go to You Tube and get ideas and tips from the sistas there.

  • Chillyroad


  • Anon

    Dude, go get yourself a woman and quit tryin’ to “help” black women out. I don’t know a single BM who is about his business who has the time to be on a BW’s site all day, errrday telling them how to act. And YES. I love Sephora, Maybelline, and whatever else is out there. You believe in so many BP owned products, get out there and start your own line besides IMAN, Milani, and Fashion Fair. That way, BW will have more than three options.

  • pinklipstick227

    Sorry, I don’t buy the excuse that black women cannot find makeup that suits them. MAC, MUFE, Bare Minerals and a variety of other brands have foundations that suits women with deep skin tones. And aside from foundation, what special attention do we need? I can find highly pigmented blushes, eye shadows, and lipsticks in both drug stores and upscale department stores ( I.e Milani, YSL, Sleek, Illumasqua, Clinique, NYX, and even Wet n Wild).

    I also find it shocking that Iman is speaking out about black beauty. This is the same woman who proclaimed Michelle Obama wasn’t beautiful. She can have several seats on a public bus to Haterville.

  • MommieDearest

    Wait… what???

    When did Imani bleach her skin?

  • jamesfrmphilly

    the cosmetics industry is a foremost example of the evil of capitalism.

    they brainwash people from childhood in order to sell product that is of no value and may be harmful. the fact that the brainwashing takes place during child hood makes it seem ‘natural’ to the victims. pale white women may well need some color but black women are born with all the color they will ever need. black women do not need make up.

    it is sad to see black women denying their own natural beauty and participating in their own exploitation. black women you do not need anything produced by white capitalists to enhance you.

    black woman you are beautiful.

  • Treece

    Yes to all this! Black women have marks, blemishes, hyper-pigmentation etc. and we want to cover it, conceal it, and even it up just like women of other races. It’s not that we are trying to “get a piece of the White man’s/woman’s pie” or anything like that. It’s just that we want the same variety and choices. If you’re going to make shades in Black women’s skin tones, realize that there are more than 2. There are a few lines that are good at that. I like Bare Minerals because they have a shade that matches me perfectly and I have not met a Black woman who has tried it that has not been able to find the perfect matching shade of foundation. I also like MAC (mostly for eye and lip color) and Iman.

  • mypointiz…


  • mypointiz…

    I used to wear my naked face 24/7 for years, but now that i’ve watched many youtube videos on how to apply makeup on dark skin, along with contouring and whatnot, I’m loving my look. A little bit makeup don’t kill nobody. As a matter of fact, people respond move favorably to you…

  • Tonton Michel

    @anon what’s the matter homeboy? U mad? Stay mad.

  • Anon

    I’m not mad, I’m confused by your constant presence on a women’s website. Particularly in the “advice” department. I don’t know a single married, coupled, or “about their business” black man in my family or daily life who spends their time on a black women’s website instead of with the ACTUAL women that they’re with, much less trying to “advise” on the innanets.

    No one is “mad” at ya’ll (you, James, and that other one that’s always around). Just concerned that BW & girls who have no men in their lives might start to take ya’ll seriously instead of seeing you three as the outliers to normal male behavior that you are.

  • Anon

    This new trend of “skin bleaching” was called “winter time” and “different lighting” when I was growing up. If half of ya’ll saw pictures of childhood me at Christmas vs. August, I’m sure I would have been a kindergartner accused of “skin bleaching”.

  • KissOfDanger

    I don’t know about you but drugstore brands are seriously lacking. I am dark skinned and finding my shade is really hard becuase I’m a dark neutral.

  • Asia

    Shouldn’t it be “women” in the headline? Sorry it’s bothering me.

  • Chillyroad

    Tonton Micheal and Jamesfromphilly I just wanted to reveal to you guys that the anger you receive as men here at a woman’s site is ironically anger about you not being there as fathers. Absent fathers in the hood has created generations of angry and often promiscuous black women who are mad at black men.

    Don’t take it personally. It isn’t about you.

  • jamesfrmphilly


    i am 70 years olde, retired and comfortable. i sometimes struggle with poor health and so there are days where the most i can do is get over to the keyboard.

    i maintain a presence on about a dozen sites. i try to pass on one or two things that i have learned in life. i do this because i did not have anyone to mentor me and i realize that i made some serious errors in my days just out of ignorance on my part.

    i used to wish that i had a daughter but i never had one.
    so i’ve adopted you guys. if i can help just one young sister with insight it more than makes up for all the hate that i receive from the haters.

    peace to you.

  • binks

    This! I don’t care about the other makeup items because as someone said finding eye shadow, lipstick, mascara, etc. isn’t the problem but finding a good foundation, concealer and BB Cream (which I love to use) is a major problem for black women especially when it comes to the right undertones in the foundation/concealer. Even when some companies have the medium/dark shades it is still not gear towards us but for the “darkest” white woman they can think of.I remember watching a youtuber (white lady) who used a BB cream in medium/dark and it blended in her skin perfectly and I was like WTF?

  • EST. 1986

    James: You do not have any ‘haters’. If you are 70-years-old, you should know better to not say something stupid like that. Furthermore, it’s one thing to offer insight, it’s another when you keep inserting an opinion that shows how ignorant you are about life for women and girls. Sometimes you, and other men come onto women’s sites and think that your male opinion solves the problem.

  • catpopstar

    Wait- What? Where the hell did that come from?

  • catpopstar

    I’m one of those few that do not wish to be called beautiful. It’s just not the type of attention I want. I’d rather have people mention something significant that I have said or done. I’m weird, I know.

  • Tonton Michel

    @anon Ohh you mad dude no doubt about that, instead of focusing on why I said you chose to morph into super internet thug and shut me down. Than try to come out the side of your mouth worried about impressionable women and girls? Really these women are so slow they can not take in various opinions and form their own thoughts? You don’t seem to have much of an opinion of them, maybe they should all just listen to you with your vast wealth of knowledge and experience. I am giving my opinion because I can, just like every one else on here. You don’t like it feel free to kick rocks, acting like you know what normal male behavior is, if you did you wouldn’t be on thes same posts you claim I put time in. Gone on with yourself dude.

    James keep on doing what your doing the ones who want to hear it will the ones that don’t won’t. You would think some would appreciate the sage advice of an elder.

  • Lisette

    The author did say “sane”, right. Life is too short.

  • Lisette

    You are definitely NOT beautiful judging by that ugly comment. Maybe if someone had told you that you were beautiful……..

  • Chillyroad


    There is a cadre of women at this site that always have to ask Tonton and James why they are on a black woman sites, question their manhood, sexuality etc simply because these men give their opinions like everyone else here.

    It’s a passive aggressive anti black male pathology that is very common among many black women. You saw it in that girl that got that Civil Rights upper cut by the bus driver and those chicks at that mall in ATL with one of them being taserd. Some black women always got some lip for black men especially those black men who are among the most considerate and decent.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    You are not weird for that. I’m the same way.

  • Kerstyn

    Yes. I struggle too. I wear M.A.C. but that is about it. Make-Up Forever and HD Makeup cause awful breakouts! And I don’t live in the USA, I live in a small city in The Netherlands, Europe where there is even less choice. (And this is not because there are fewer WOC here, it is just because no-one cares to cater to us. I guess the stores are owned by white people who cater to their peoples’ needs.) The closest M.A.C counter is in a department store in another city! And as for finding it in an everyday drug store… that would be some other sort of dream!

  • SayWhat

    I’m not sure why your comment was ‘thumbed down’ but I thought it was very nice. Nothing wrong with saying you think a woman is beautiful naturally, doesn’t mean we will all agree with you, but it was thoughtful none the less.

  • Sylvie

    Um…Raises hand. I’m a woman who grew up with a father in the home who wonders why men with lives, hobbies, or common sense hang out on women’s sites dispensing outdated and dubious advice that seems to be based on personal bias, uninformed opinion, and poor life choices. AND expect a receptive and grateful audience for said advice. (I’m not looking to be “adopted” by a stranger on the innanet)

    Back to Iman and beauty.

    Women are free and empowered to accentuate their beauty and femininity in whatever way they feel fit. Too often women of deeper pigmentation don’t have many drugstore options or high end makeup options to play with. Yes, its gotten much better now but 15 years ago, there weren’t a lot of MACs there was fashion fair, which for a teen me was too pink and too expensive and Posner the sole drugstore brand I remember. I love having options, especially options with great pigmentation and intensity of the color. And her BB cream is amazing. You wanna see luminous? Try that!

    And Black female entrepreneurship should always be celebrated and really should be on a site geared for Black women.

  • Tell me it aint so…

    @Chilly Road

    I love and always look forward to your post. You are always on point lol. Thanks for your input and insight.

  • http://Clutch SL

    Wow, who would give a BM telling BW they are beautiful a thumbs down????

  • Tell me it aint so…


    Wow. You definitely have a young spirit. Thanks for your comments and care.

    @EST. 1986

    Whoever did what they did to you have prevailed. You are most certainly a bitter individual. Don’t let the past control your future. Learn to move on and live. You aren’t the only one.

  • chicnoir

    Mr James I use to wish that I had a daughter but never had one. So I adopted you guys

    Awwwwwww that is so sweet of you.

  • Gina Wild

    No, you’re not weird. Being beautiful is certainly good, being complimented on physical beauty is equally good. However, I should mentioned that physical beauty is not an accomplishment, it’s “good genes”.

    I too would rather people mention actual achievement rather than being solely told that I’m beautiful. In other words, physical beauty is cool and stuff but beauty alone is not the end-all be-all.

  • BoutDatLove

    Neither of us personally know Iman or her reasonings, so no one should be speaking as if she can’t tell black woman they are beautiful & deserve to be told that they are beautiful.

    If she is guilty of what you are saying, then that only means that at one point in her life she was made to feel as if she wasn’t beautiful.

    When do we ever stop learning? Never. She can use her experiences to boost the self esteem of little black girls and black woman because she knows what it feels like to not be told & considered as a beautiful black woman. Especially because she was a model, that whole business is about beauty & obviously black beauty at her time wasn’t really embraced in the fashion industry. I’m sure she has been rejected many times & insulted many times as a model, which could have taken a jab at her self esteem.

    It gets under my skin when people say ”white features.” This is so stupid, if you look at any part of the world, specifically Africa, black people don’t all have the same hair textures, noses, lips, face shapes, body types, eyes etc. Who came first? Exactly. So stop making other black woman feel bad because of their skin color or features. If Caucasians feel the need to put light skinned woman on a pedal stool, that is not the fault of light skinned black woman. This post is about reinforcing what is true, that black woman are beautiful and want to be told they are beautiful. Everything from black dark skin to black light skin is all beautiful, from full black noses to thin black noses and so on… it is all beautiful because it is us.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    Tell me it ain’t so:That’s cute, but what about what I said makes me ‘bitter’ and what do you know about me that I don’t?

  • Anon


    You might find some useful information there.

    Tonton, I said what I said to other BW and girls on this site for a reason… your response proved my point. Men in ACTUAL RELATIONSHIPS or BUILDING BUSINESSES OR LEGACIES DON’T HAVE TIME TO BE ON A BW’S SITE ALL DAY ERRRRDAY. How many of the wives and girlfriends who visit here have significant others who are employed who hang out on Clutch “advising” black women? EVERY DAY?????

    I’ll wait… . No seriously, I plan on waiting for a WHILE.

    “Really these women are so slow they can not take in various opinions and form their own thoughts? ” —> yeah, for real… it is obvious by reading some of the comment sections where the black community has FAILED or opporated in a vacuum void of COMMON SENSE so sometimes, I put some out there in the atmosphere/innanets/blogosphere. I’ve been spotlighted in other spaces as a good voice and so I try to pass on what my parents, grandparents and family told me because it is OBVIOUS that some black women and girls did not recieve that. How do I know? They haven’t realized how OFF your constant presence here is. You don’t really give “advice”. You tell BW how to be so that they’ll fit what you find datable. And I think they deserve to “hear a voice” that shines a light on how “datable” a black man is who has the time to throw down on the internet at a BLACK WOMAN’S website everyday. Where YOUR WOMAN AT for all of this?

  • Anon

    Who wouldn’t give a thumbs down to a man saying that black women shouldn’t even so much as expect a cute eyeshadow, or lipstick while everyone else in the world is given tactit permission to have fun with their appearance on occasion. What’s next, black women don’t need lotion, or tailored clothing?

  • Anon

    THANK YOU!!!

    I’m not looking to be adopted, I have a family (with MEN in it!). And no, they ain’t on Clutch either. This ish ain’t NORMAL, it really isn’t and it shocks me how many women think that this is.

  • Skye

    They think it’s cute until they find their men on these sites!

  • Anon

    It sure wasn’t. It was about a whole group of men just like him, they tend to print relationship novels while either being single or on third marriages, or having their babymama drama play out on T.V. Anywho, when you get tired, I got your glass of water waiting for you, because I could tell how thirsty you were since last year.

  • Anon

    Catpopstar… You asked a question that requires logic??? Oh, I want to be that optomistic!

  • apple

    i have hyperpigmentation and its so HARD to find foundation.,..i found a foundation in 2003 and they discontinued it, i still keep the little palette in hope i can find it again.. i don’t even wear foundation because i cant find one for my skin

  • Anon

    James, I won’t pretend I say this with love… ain’t all of us looking to be adopted by a 70 year old man with no family. Particularly one who comes here to scold black women’s romantic and appearance choices with morals and aesthetics of DECADES gone by. Black women are beautiful. We can also be beautiful with eyeliner, lipgloss, blush, eyeshadow, glitter, etc… i.e. whatEVER we choose to adorn ourselves with. Instead of trying to “adopt” black women, why aren’t you MENTORING YOUNG BLACK MEN?????

  • http://Clutch SL

    @Anon, maybe I misread or was reading between the lines with @James. I didn’t take his comment as a “put down” but rather as a compliment. I’ve heard lots of BM who feel like makeup actually detracts from a woman’s natural beauty…..which is not offensive to me. This is just how some of them feel – my husband included, but I still wear makeup cause I like it and I pay them no mind. I was wearing makeup when my husband met me and I will continue as long as it pleases me. How men (or women for that matter) feel about this has no baring in what I choose to do for myself- it’s a non-issue.

  • Anon

    Also, Tonton, I’m a woman. Strange though, after stating how I read Clutch, and calling you out for outlier male behavior, how found my comments to be from a man… … …

  • KissOfDanger

    I know how you feel. Don’t get me started on the concealers.

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