We all know there are lots of problems in the modeling industry: racism, unfair working conditions, prevalent sexual harassment, pressure to conform to a certain body size… we could go on. But because models are independent contractors with virtually no rights (and no single employer to protect them), it’s rare for a working model to actually speak out the problems that plague her. So, thank god for people like Jourdan Dunn, who, at the top of her game, is not afraid to be honest about the industry she works in.
The London-born model, who recently opened up to Net-a-Porter’s new mag EDIT about facing racism in the industry, made an appearance on the UK’s The Jonathan Ross show, where she was refreshingly candid about everything from learning to walk in heels, working with ‘crazy personalities’ and that incident with an unnamed white makeup artist who refused to do her makeup because she was black.
On the latter, Dunn explains: “I was at a show and…the hairstylist had already started my hair. The makeup artist came along and she looked at me–and she didn’t think I could hear–and she’s like [whispers]‘I don’t want to do her makeup,’ and they were like ‘why?’ And she was like, [whispers] ‘yeah well because she’s black and I’m white, I’m not comfortable, I just don’t want to do it.’”
The makeup artist eventually came around but by then Dunn was pissed–and she wasn’t afraid to show it. “So she came over me and I was like no actually I dont want you to do my makeup.”
“Here’s my thing,” Dunn said. “If you’re a makeup artist you should be able to do any type of makeup. It’s just skin. You need to know your stuff.”
Racism isn’t the only hurdle Dunn has encountered in her career. The model also spoke about how challenging it was to master her walk when she first started modeling. It’s kind of horrifying:
“Oh my god, so like I got scouted when I was 14, so I never wore heels. So they’re [her modeling agency] like, ‘k so the shows are coming up, you need to get your walk down.’ I remember my mom bought me a pair of 8 inch hooker heels and she’s like ‘Jourdan if you can walk in these you can walk in anything.’ Once I got to New York, like, for an hour straight, they tied my hands behind my back and said ‘alright Jourdan, up and down up and down,’ until I had tears in my eyes.”
When the audience understandably gasps in horror Dunn is unfazed: “No, it’s okay,” she says.
She also spoke about the difficulty in adjusting to the modeling environment.
“Being put in an environment with not so normal people, like crazy personalities and egos, it was a bit much for me,” Dunn said.
She digs into the Russian models in particular: “[Models] have their little cliques. There’s the Brazilian girls and then the Russian girls, that have a bit of a reputation…Yes the Russians are the crazy ones.”
Watch the amazing interview (in which she also cuts off the host’s pants) below.