opening the floor: a conversation on colorism with Modern Day Esther|kendra shiloh

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to talk about an important topic that needs more attention: colorism. Colorism has been shown time and time again in the fashion and beauty world, and it needs to change. We all should use our voices for good, to spread awareness about pressing topics that affect the world around us. But rather than just give my opinion, I wanted to share the thoughts of someone else. I asked Esther (@Modern_Day_Esther) to answer a few questions on the topic. 

What role does colorism play in the fashion and beauty world?

“In my opinion, Colorism is one of the largest problems in the fashion industry. It causes a lack of diversity and lack of representation in magazines, on runways and in the boardrooms of major fashion companies. Improvements have been made over time in terms of being inclusive but it’s still so far from where it needs to be. This was one of the topics I spoke in for my Senior Thesis when I graduated from college”. 

How have you experienced colorism since being in the public eye?

“Companies often approach me differently when asking me to promote products for them. Sometimes they want me to purchase their items at a discounted rate to promote. While my non-POC peers are sent items completely free of charge. It’s a blatant display of colorism. Also as someone who works actively in the fashion world, it’s something I witness an experience regularly. Colorism is usually disguised as a preference”. 

What is “black-fishing”?

“Blackfishing is when a non POC uses tanning, makeup or another method to physically alter their appearance to give the illusion that they are a POC”.

Why are people resorting to such extremes in order to change their appearance? (ex: skin bleaching)

“I can’t speak to everyone’s reasoning or motives, but some of it may come from the desire to benefit from the positives of being of another race while dodging the persecution that comes from being of another race. Also, a lot of it may stem from low self-esteem and a person not being comfortable in their own skin. For example, in a statement Kylie Jenner explained that she got her lips enhanced due to years of being bullied for having very small lips. That didn’t excuse the time she appropriated a culture but it does give a bit of a look into her reasoning for altering her appearance. Some do it with malicious intent and some do it to feel better about themselves”. 

How has social media influenced your beauty standards?

“I’ve always been receptive when it comes to beauty standards and seeing that everyone is beautiful. Social media has just further shown me that and has connected me amazing people”.

Have you changed your appearance to fit a standard or “mold”?

“No, I’ve never felt the need to. I’ve always embraced the fact that I’m the only person that has the look I have and that is my strength. Sometimes I have had moments where I’ve thought “well, maybe if I did this or changed this about myself I would have booked that job”. I have to remind myself that if I conform, I’ll be losing myself and if someone won’t work with me as I am, then that’s their loss”. 

How do you define beauty?

“Beauty is embracing all the things you love and even the things you don’t always love about yourself. Beauty is having the confidence to stay true to yourself in a world where everyone else is trying to be someone else. Beauty is endless and beauty isn’t something that can be measured by a single universal standard”. 

Shaynna/Esther (@modern_day_esther)

Hey there! My name is Shaynna but everyone calls me Esther, based on the biblical story. I’m from Richmond, VA and I travel between there and Los Angeles. I am a Lover of God, fashion designer, model and whatever else I need to be on any given day. I love to create and I love to help others bring their visions to fruition. I’m obsessed with flowers and almost anything pink! Nice to meet ya 🙂

I want to thank Esther for participating in this interview. I think it’s important to broaden your horizons, and open your minds to hear an opinion other than your own. That’s the beauty of learning. 

Thanks for reading,

kendra shiloh. 


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