Do you feel that the fashion industry is more open to diversity today, or do you find that whitewashing is still very much prevalent?
Although I feel the fashion industry has become more accepting towards people of colour, I still feel there is a big issue with the ideas behind appropriation. I think it’s great to see the fashion media ‘celebrating’ other cultures, but not when they are not paying homage to where they have taken it from. It is not nice to see something from your own culture, taken and made to be perceived as more beautiful on someone else. There are a handful of popular ethnic models in the fashion industry, but many are overlooked, and the most popular ethnic models are the ones that have Eurocentric features.
How do you think black women are portrayed and perceived in the fashion and beauty industries?
I feel like the beauty of black women is definitely more recognised and admired today but certain brands or media can still makes us feel not as important to cater for. For example, when I’m shopping for makeup I find it harder to find shades to suit my skin tone or when I'm looking through fashion magazines I don’t see models of colour wearing the clothes as much as I see white models, when I'm buying products for my hair, I have to go to specialist 'Afro-Caribbean shops just to find something suitable. When I’m on social media I see young women looking up to celebrities like Kylie Jenner, for their ‘big lips’ and ‘braids’ and ‘wigs’, when I have black friends who have been laughed at for such things. Never have I personally felt negatively different for my features however, I dislike being labelled as 'exotic' because I am of mixed heritage. My skin being lighter and my hair being softer shouldn’t make me more exotic because ultimately, I am black.
What do you think is the best way to combat lack of diversity and racism in fashion?
It is going to be very difficult to get the fashion industry to change the way they showcase women of colour, but we (the consumers) have to carry on voicing the fact we are not okay with the treatment and the appropriation, and others have to speak up more too. As consumers, the more we buy from the brands that don’t equally promote people of colour, the more they can continue in the vain of not supporting us. I also feel like as a photographer I'm already quite diverse with my choices of models, you can see they all come from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. I shall carry on doing this and more, with more shoots that conceptually celebrate the diversity of people.
What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to pursue photography?
For a young women wanting to pursue photography, I would say be prepared. Be prepared to work hard and be prepared to face the occasional sexist obstacle. There are a lot of photographers out there with the same goals as you, but always remain focused on your OWN journey. Don’t let anyone else make you feel like you aren’t doing well for taking things at your own pace. As long as you are learning every day, that is a continual progression in itself.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Write down my ideas. I literally write down everything that comes to mind and then when I'm ready, I develop those ideas and bring them to life. Even if they seem a bit crazy or irrelevant at the time, you never know when you’ll want to use them. And a piece of advice I would give is, don’t sleep on those ideas for too long either, you never know who else is going to wake up with them one day!