For Allure magazines April 2017 issue, they asked 41 women of color to share their stories of colorism, diversity and inclusion.

Left, on Dilone: Swimsuit by Alix. Bracelet by Hervé Van Der Straeten. Center, on Aamito Lagum: Swimsuit by Acacia Swimwear. Earrings by Marni. Right, on Imaan Hammam: Swimsuit by Mikoh. Earrings by Loewe

 

Dilone, model

“I don’t think people realize just how much Latinas vary in skin tone. I have Colombian and Dominican friends who are superdark and others who have blonde hair and blue eyes. We are kind of stepping away from thinking this is what someone Latin should look like, with a light skin tone and big butts. It’s celebrated more now than in the past, just how different Latin women are. My role model growing up was Selena. I love her music, what she represented, her sexiness. And just being herself. She wasn’t trying to conform to something else.”

Aamito Lagum, model

“Growing up in Uganda, I did not fit into the ideal. I was too dark. I was too tall. But I didn’t really notice I was black until I came to the U.S. Here I’m black, whereas I was just a person in Uganda. [Last year, there was a close-up of Lagum’s lips on the M.A.C. Instagram feed that triggered racist remarks in the comments section.] It wasn’t that big a deal to me — haters gonna hate — and I was able to brush it off. I posted back, ‘My lips are giving you sleepless nights.’ I grew up loved by my family. That love enabled me to love what I saw in the mirror. I learned to love my skin too much to fit someone else’s script. It is the same love that keeps me safe from comments that would otherwise offend me.”

 

Imaan Hammam, model

“I’m half Moroccan, half Egyptian, and I was born in Amsterdam. I’m Muslim, and I’m super proud of my heritage and of my roots. I want to be a role model for young girls who are struggling with racism or struggling with their looks or with their skin color. I had Naomi Campbell, who I looked up to as a black powerful woman. But there aren’t many Arabic models, and being an African-Arabic model, I’m trying to open doors for more Arabic girls.”

 

Tessa Thompson, actress, Westworld and Annihilation

“I think about the civil rights movement — you couldn’t organize [with] Twitter, Instagram, and text messaging. Now we have so much access to information [and] each other. It’s a wonderful time for women who [are] coming forth and being like, ‘This is who I am,’ and it’s beautiful. When you’re a black person in this country, some things you don’t mean to be political statements become political statements. You’re just saying, ‘I won’t allow how anyone else talks about standards for beauty to disrupt the way I want to live my life.’ ”

 

Aja Naomi King, actress, How to Get Away With Murder

“I was afraid of the darkness of my skin. I believed I had to be celebrated for my intelligence and my sense of humor. Those could be the beautiful things about me since my skin couldn’t. I remember in junior high having a beach day with my family and going to school the next day. Someone in my class exclaimed shock at my appearance. She didn’t know black people could tan. The look on her face stuck with me. For years, I wanted to avoid direct sunlight. The comments you hear as a child stick with you. [I was] afraid of photos in dark rooms because you know no one will be able to see you in the picture and [people] will make fun of you. [I feared] walking into a room that has a black wall and hearing someone remark about how you’ve disappeared. You try to avoid these situations so you’re not in a position to act like you don’t care or [you] make fun of the darkness of your skin before someone else does so that maybe it will sting less. It has been a process of self-love to embrace the beauty of every single drop that makes up the richness that is my beautiful brown skin. If you learn anything in life, learn to love yourself. There is no amount of makeup or skin-care products that will make you love yourself.”

Allure April 2017

Jessica Alba, actress and founder of the Honest Company and Honest Beauty

“It’s important for [my daughters] to know that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and colors, to celebrate diversity and point out people who have [a] different tone, or they’re covered in beautiful freckles, or they have tight curls or long waves. All of it’s beautiful. Girls who choose to wear boys’ clothes, who don’t want to put on a face of makeup, who want to shave their heads — that’s beautiful. What makes someone beautiful is the power of owning who they are, and confidence, being kind, having compassion. Those types of themes are what I really try to nail into my girls’ heads. The only way that any of us is going to advance is if we have a generation of people who aren’t living with prejudices about standards of beauty. I think an African-American president and First Lady really helped. [And] having more women have a seat at the table has opened up the dialogue on inclusion and diversity. We all should be celebrated. We all deserve a seat at the table.”

 

Hannah Bronfman, DJ and founder of the beauty and fitness website hbfit.com

“My mother is an African-American from the South Side of Chicago who married a white guy in 1978. She was hyperaware of racism and made me aware of that. I went to a private girls’ school where I was one out of five girls in the class who looked like me. I really first encountered it when I went to dance class at Alvin Ailey with girls who were a lot darker. They’d tease me that I didn’t have rhythm. When I was 12, I had a falling out with a friend. She called me the N-word. The fact is that stuff is taught. African-Americans are still underserved by cosmetics. I’ve been using a line called Wander Beauty, co-founded by Lindsay Ellingson — a blue-eyed white girl. Their colors are great.”

 

Tamika Mallory, activist, national cochair of the Women’s March on Washington, and founder of Mallory Consulting

“When I was in elementary school, I lived in a community that was predominantly black and Latino. The light skin–dark skin issue was very prevalent. The Latino [kids were] the cool kids, while the black kids were sort of looked down on. It definitely created insecurities. Today, I am 100 percent comfortable in my skin. Each one of us has to be comfortable in our skin. That’s what will change the world. There is some young girl who is watching, who has darker skin, who is going to be encouraged by your confidence, your ability to walk in your skin. The Women’s March was a great display of what this country really looks like. Now we are going to have to be committed to resistance. Resistance looks like the National Park Service tweeting about climate change regardless of whether somebody is going to lose their job. Resistance looks like not accepting ‘alternative facts.’ Resistance looks like registering to vote. If you woke up after the election feeling disparaged, threatened, welcome to the reality that black people have been dealing with for a long time. If people of good conscience are to see a real healing, it’s going to have to start with fighting for the most oppressed.”

Read all 41 Conversations Here

 

Allure US April 2017 by Patrick Demarchelier
Photography: Patrick Demarchelier
Styled by: Laura Ferrara
Hair: Ward
Makeup: Romy Soleimani

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