I 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.