Influencer and model Bianca Alexa is using her social media clout to hold fashion and beauty brands accountable to their pledges to the Black community.
Bianca Alexa, who has roughly 90,000 Instagram followers, made a call to action on June 5 when she released a video on the social media platform where she recounts the times she faced discrimination while working as a Black model and how the industry needs to do more to create an inclusive and diverse environment for Black, indigenous people of color. She has subsequently launched the platform, #VisiblyUs, on Instagram to highlight Black models, influencers, hair stylists and makeup artists that brands should be working with.
“I can tell a lot of brands are trying to save face and it seems like a p.r. stunt, especially when they were posting a black square on their [Instagram] feed and then they go radio silent,” she said during a phone interview from Los Angeles. “Now is not the time to be quiet. Brands have so much influence and so many followers.”
Over the last few weeks, major fashion and beauty brands have responded to the recent police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other unarmed Black people across the country with pledges of support to the Black community by offering donations, grants or promises of promoting diversity within their company and their initiatives. #VisiblyUs aims to hold brands accountable to these pledges, as well as give them a resource to find Black creatives to hire.
“I want the platform to shed light on what we often go through in the industry,” she said, “but also be a resource for brands to find talent of color and create equal opportunities and give us the same spaces they give our white counterparts. It can also offer action steps on how we can remain inclusive to the Black community, not just now because it seems like a trend to most brands, but it’s something that should be and continue to be in the future.”
In her video, which now has more than 66,000 views, Bianca Alexa details an experience where she was the only Black model in a photo shoot for a beauty campaign where the hair stylists didn’t have the resources or experience to work with her natural hair texture. She ultimately had to style her own hair, while the other models were given hair extensions that were made to match their hair color and texture.
“I obviously didn’t want to seem like I’m being difficult on set,” she said about the experience. “I know that’s why a lot of models of color are scared to speak up when people are damaging their hair on set because you have to work 10 times harder just to be in that room.”
While Bianca Alexa has experienced other instances of discrimination in the industry — for example when makeup artists don’t have a foundation shade to match her skin tone — she says she’s worked with brands that have created a comfortable and equal environment. Between her modeling and influencer careers, she’s worked with major brands including L’Oréal, Reebok, J. Crew, Nordstrom, NYX and Urban Decay, among others.
Bianca Alexa has already begun spotlighting several Black creatives in the fashion and beauty industry, including makeup artists Bethany Garita and Renée Loiz and models Widny Bazile and Nicki Cheri.
“More brands could actively be like, ‘OK these are the things we need to make sure we’re doing to be inclusive,’ and actually allow more opportunities for Black creators to be able to work in the fashion and beauty industry,” she said on her platform’s goal. “I want it to be a multifunctional page and hopefully it can spark some change that is really needed.”
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