Complexity Of Skin Colour In The Modelling Industry

In the previous article, we shared about the problems along with the empowerment of plus-size models. Beauty enthusiasts know singer Rihanna‘s makeup brand Fenty is popular for its extensive inclusivity of all shades of skin. For the longest time, women with darker skin tones had trouble finding a suitable foundation shade. There is a superiority-inferiority complex between fair and dark-skinned models. The chances of this phenomenon happening wherever you are is not surprising. But you’ll come to realise how many see this as a supposed “problem”. And they “solve” this by using skin whitening or skin bleaching products. Next up in this modelling series, we shall unravel the unhealthy obsession with skin colour. Specifically why the society’s beauty standards equate beauty to having a fair complexion.

Malaysian born but was schooled in Australia, Laura C has come a long way from being just a fresh model. She shares her experiences as a model who is of a darker skin colour and some of the "challenges" she faces.
The theme of this shoot was inspired by Disney’s Pocahontas. This shoot particularly highlights Laura Patricia Chandran’s (Laura C) features, especially her naturally tan and flawless complexion. It featured Russian makeup artist Baku’s work.
Image by Kate Photo KL

Does Fairer Skin Bring More Opportunities?

Throughout this series, we’ve seen how the modelling industry has diversified. Be it size or height, the industry has evolved to be more inclusive of people of colour. The conversation about skin colour mostly comes up in the beauty industry. Predominantly in Asian countries, where there are numerous stigmas regarding tan skin. This has become a deeply rooted cultural norm. So much so that one’s social class depends on one’s skin colour. There are many misnomers when it comes to having tan skin. Hard labour and poverty seem to be the prominent description. And in contrast, having fair skin is a sign of a comfortable life away from the sun.

Apart from the reasons that the sun's UV rays are extremely harmful to our skin, it is also sometimes used as an excuse to avoid getting a tan. In Asian societies, having a dark skin colour is usually looked down upon.
Having a fair, porcelain-like skin is perceived as “beautiful” to most Asian girls. Hence it’s not surprising that many skincare products uses Oriental models with such skin in their advertisements.
Image from Pixabay

The obsession of having fair skin has resulted in women using bleaching or whitening products. What’s interesting to highlight is that such products are part of some “skincare” routines. It has become such a big business promoting these beauty standards to women (or men). A large part of this issue lies in the history with European colonisation that most Asian countries faced. These Eurocentric beauty ideals explain the reasons why fair skin equates to being more “beautiful”. Tan skin is very common in most Asian societies like Thailand or the Philippine. So it’s rather odd that society still deems fair skin as elite.

With a tan skin colour, Laura has faced incidents where clients assumed her skin colour based off telephone conversations she's had.
Born with naturally tan skin and being a woman of colour in the modelling industry, Laura proves that having a darker skin complexion doesn’t mean you’re unattractive. Beauty isn’t dependent on your skin colour. Also, she models in her own swimwear line Urban Niche! 
Image by Laura Patricia Chandran

Your Beauty Is Yours To Judge And Yours Alone

The fair skin trend especially in East Asian countries, has become a face for the beauty industry. From Korean skincare products to Japanese advertisements on skin brightening treatments, all to help people achieve their desired ‘results’. Before venturing into the topic on how to achieve healthy skin, we need to concede that beauty is subjective. Society’s standard of beauty doesn’t and shouldn’t have to reflect what your definition of beauty is. And it most definitely shouldn’t make you feel insecure just because you don’t have a lighter skin colour.

There are a number of people who would buy into the idea that having fair skin is desirable. They equate fair skin to having more “success” in different aspects of life. Examples include better chances of getting jobs, being happier or even enjoy higher social mobility. Discrimination of dark skin has been so rampant that it often goes unnoticed. You would also hear about parents raising their kids to be concerned about the “light skin” privilege. This raises the question as to whether the parents themselves believe that such a privilege exists. Leading to the mindset to raise their daughters or sons to be light skin. Nonetheless, here’s to tell you that you can tune out all that noise because beauty radiates from within.

With a tan skin colour, Laura has faced incidents where clients assumed her skin colour based off telephone conversations she's had.
Laura C is setting a perfect example for those who have naturally tan complexions to set out on their goals without doubting that their skin colour isn’t considered to be beautiful. Beauty comes in all shades and sizes, so go out and do you.
Image by Laura Patricia Chandran

Does Skin Colour Really Matter In The Modelling Industry?

We’ve all heard about the discriminations that go around whenever it involves skin colour. Yes, there is a term to address this issue: colourism. Colourism doesn’t just involve itself in beauty standards. It occurs when a society enforces the idea of being ‘fair’ as being good or better. It’s easy to blame society’s unrealistic beauty expectations. We should educate ourselves to see beyond all that. Having fair skin doesn’t indicate superiority. And vice versa, we shouldn’t deem people with a darker skin complexion as inferior. Respect knows no boundaries. All beautiful tan skin girls (and boys), be proud and be confident in your own skin. Keen to understand more about colourism? Here’s a very insightful video about colourism by Purnashee, a student at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.

Considering the nature of our topic, Malaysian model Laura Patricia Chandran was the perfect person to speak to. Laura, or more popularly known as Laura C, has been in the modelling scene for more than a decade. Driven by passion, Laura is an accomplished entrepreneur in many industries other than just modelling. She has written for travel magazines, and which led to starting her own swimwear line. On top of that, she started her own event and talent management business too. She continues to make a name for herself as a social media influencer as well as a talent manager. As a tan skin model, Laura light-heartedly shares her experiences on this issue.

“I Thought You Were… ”

Just like any other fresh model, Laura entered the world of modelling by chance. She caught the eye of the photographer at a shoot she went to with her friend. Since then, her career as a model started to take flight. Malaysian born with both Sri Lankan and Filipino roots, Laura has a naturally tan complexion. She recounts a funny incident that happened to her in the past. One of her clients mistaken her for “fair skinned” based on a telephone call alone. Although it did sound like an issue, Laura didn’t take it personally.

With a tan skin colour, Laura has faced incidents where clients assumed her skin colour based off telephone conversations she's had.
Laura posing in the Dragonia Dynasty design of her Urban Niche swimwear line. She also proudly shows off her sunglasses design by Urban Niche too. Both these brands are designed to be stylish, while remaining affordable.
Image by Sensous Passion Imagework

To help us understand, Laura mentions how each client has their personal preferences. As much as having preferences may deem as almost discriminatory, it isn’t always the case. It’s easier to simply accept that clients have preference to the type of models that they want. It’s better than having a dark-skinned model trying to appear light-skinned just to secure the job. Clients would first consider the role the model would play in the advertisement and then scout for the right talent. Laura stresses that models should keep an open mind when it comes to issues like these. Don’t hold grudges or have hard feelings. Instead, we should seek to understand what the clients are looking for.

Who Says Only Fair Skinned Are Beautiful?

There’s an underrepresentation of women of colour in most industries. However, it’s not the case for Laura C’s very own line of swimwear and eyewear. Urban Niche displays a wide variety of fashionable yet durable swimwear for women of all sizes and skin tones. Not surprising that they have a huge following on Instagram. They even have a physical shop if you’re more keen on trying them out. You can find their swimwear at Da Angle Boutique in Bangsar Village Two.

Other than that, Laura has also started a line for eyewear too – Urban Eyewear. Designed for both men and women, they’re affordable and stylish. They also carry a wide range of designs and styles made for every individual. Da Angle Boutique also features Urban Eyewear’s products. Head on over to check them out! If you’re an online shopper, you can check out Urban Eyewear’s Instagram page for their designs.

And of course, not to mention Laura’s very own talent management company. Considering it’s a very new company, Laura is creating an app to launch her services. Talent Star Management app will be available for download from both the App Store and Google Play Store soon. Talent Star Management can help models to carve out and build their portfolios, and outsource these talents to companies. Nonetheless, if you just want to test out the waters, you can drop Laura a message on her Instagram page. She will provide the guidance and advice you need.

As a woman of colour, Laura has never allowed her skin colour to determine her success or prevent her from achieving her goals.
Laura is simply proud to be in her own skin. There is no need to be self conscious just because you don’t fit into the stereotype of what others perceive as “beautiful”.
Image by Sensous Passion Imagework

Next Up, The Secrets To Healthy Glowing Skin

As a young adult, I never knew how important skincare was. I had this misconception that makeup was always the solution. I believe that my skin appear healthier by covering up dark spots. There has been a recent skincare trends on Tik Tok. And I have been doing a lot more research into how skincare actually works. Contrary to popular belief, skincare caters for both men and women. Ever heard of the phrase: “Real men take care of their skin”? Skincare is genderless and is always worth investing in! Come back again when we explore tips about skincare, and how to achieve a healthy and glowing skin.

Is skin colour important when considering one's beauty?

About Kimberly WONG

Communications major, with a passion for reading, Kimberly (Kim for short) has a knack for learning new languages. Having worked in various industries helped her to further polish her linguistics skills too. Loves a healthy discussion about anything under the sun.

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