The shoot, part of an editorial for Hello Mag, was a prime example of cultural misappropriation and blackface as the model is not as dark as she has been made up to look for these pictures. Both Zara Abid and stylist behind the shoot Tabesh Khoja have taken to Instagram to defend the editorial and attempted to call out the ‘colourism’ that according to them, came with the criticism, only to have missed the point completely.
“I am a proud dark-skinned model,” says Zara Abid in her post. “I am the first-hand victim of discrimination and colourism that exists within our society.”
“Yes, the shoot enhanced my colour because I would like to empower my darker-skinned population as there is a lack of representation amongst our dark-skinned girls… On multiple occasions, I have been made 2 – 3 tones lighter so why not darker?”
While Zara Abid aims to highlight colourism and makes a call to stop shaming darker skin tones, she seems to not understand why that criticism erupted in the first place. For Zara to open up about her turmoils as a model with darker skin is commendable but for someone to talk about being shunned from the industry on the basis of her looks to take part in a photoshoot that should’ve hired a person that is much darker is too ironic. If you know the hardships that are faced by those with darker skin then maybe don’t take away a job meant for them?
Also, we do not condone a model having her skin lightened either so we fail to see that as an argument.
Tabesh Khoja makes similar points but many of his criticisms against the criticism are making us realise that once again, they missed the point. We want to see our dark-skinned beauties take over the industry and get the representation they deserve. But when a model is painted to be darker than she is, that is not representation. As Tabesh himself said, “We often overlook our very own diverse skin tones.”