I have thought long and hard about writing this post and it’s taken me sometime to get round to writing it because of the sensitive nature of it. However a friend recently urged me to speak out on it through my blog and I agreed because I think it’s a post which needs to be raised and discussed. So I’m going ahead and writing it anyway. It’s a controversial post though so it may raise a few eyebrows!
So, rewind to two years ago, and I was a new nail technician- starting out. I was honored to be asked by a friend to compete as a hand model for her entry into a well known nail competition at Olympia in London. It’s a huge event, and taken very seriously in the nail industry. My friend had joined a brand team and was being mentored by a certain well-known local educator from a VERY well known and well respected nail brand. I was also in the process of training with said brand in a range of nail techniques. I knew this local educator, had spent a lot of money with her and was eagerly awaiting more training, so I was happy to get involved in the competition part of it. So my friend and I got to work, practicing like crazy- I wanted her to place well, so I was doing everything I could to grow my nails and look after my hands.
After some weeks my friend tells me that she has been advised by this educator (for top world renowned nail brand who knew me and also knew she was using me as her model) not to use a black, tan or Indian Asian hand model for the competition entry (I may be paraphrasing somewhat here but) the message generally was that darker skin models won’t win because it doesn’t look good. She should only use Caucasian or very light skinned people to model with! Sorry? What? I thought hand models were picked for the natural length of the nails and fingers. This is suggesting in effect, that the whole Olympia nail competition (as well as the worldwide nail competition industry) is the same; discriminatory, racist, prejudiced. I doubted the whole industry because of this and wanted nothing more to do with it.
I had never in my life heard anything as so blatantly prejudice and racist as this. I was sickened and disgusted. A well-known educator and nail ‘personality’ who people know and respect, someone who spent much of their career bragging about equality would say such a thing?
It’s disgusting; it’s disgraceful and everything in-between. It’s all the swear words under the sun and more. It’s racist and bigoted. This was someone I had previously liked and looked up to saying this so for me it was a huge kick in the teeth. It’s also hypocritical because this person was a so-called ambassador for equality within the nail industry. I was shocked. I immediately disassociated myself from her, and the brand who she works for. I also disassociated myself from her training facility in London and cancelled all further training and (mysteriously) although I didn’t ever complain or contact her directly about it I was contacted by one of her minions and given a refund on all deposits paid on courses.
Really and truly it’s sad that in this day and age, darker skinned people aren’t seen as beautiful too. Instead they are considered ugly, not fit to model, not to be seen on the catwalks…. not fit to hand model!!!! As I’m writing this, I’m finding myself livid all over again that this even happened.
It’s a sensitive post yes and I’m frustrated because I can’t actually directly name and shame the nail brand publicly, but this experience shaped my nail career, it massively changed my outlook on nails, and the industry in general. It made me feel like because of my skin colour I couldn’t participate in competitions and made me feel like my skin colour wasn’t pretty enough to hand model. I never did get to find out for certain whether this is the view of the nail competition scene in general- I didn’t stay around long enough to find out, but I do know that people of colour rarely appear as hand models in these competitions and place- you just have to look back at the past winners to see that.
So why didn’t I complain formally? Why didn’t I broadcast it to anyone who would listen, I hear you all cry?! Well the honest answer is- at the time I didn’t feel I could. I didn’t think it would be believed. I was a new nail tech starting out in the nail game and I didn’t feel I had a voice! The friend who told me what was said dropped out of competing after all in disgust and asked me not to make a formal complaint. The educator in question is a family favourite with this nail brand and a well known face on the nail scene. We basically felt they would simply ‘Spin’ the story to discredit us and make it seem either like a mountain was being made from a molehill or simply that we were liars. This post has been therapeutic to say the least because clearly I still carry hard feelings about it but largely I’m over it. I’ve moved on. However I would never train or buy with this brand ever again and I wish when I see others praising this individual that I could scream from the hills what she really is.
If you haven’t already guessed the nail brand, I would like to say they are well known worldwide and originate from the U.S.A – I would like to think their representatives in other countries aren’t so disgraceful but who knows. I’m so sorry for being cryptic but let’s just say when it comes to feeling respect from them – I didn’t and the love I did feel was short-lived!
Feel free to like, share, comment and spread the word on this one- it shouldn’t really be swept under the rug. If any of you have experienced similar don’t feel you can’t speak out. It should not be tolerated at all!
Until next time,