Adama Ndiaye started Dakar Fashion Week in 2002, and this year she put her foot down when it comes to certain beauty practices of the models. Many women and professional models in Senegal have turned to skin bleaching creams to make their body lighter.
Ndiaye is against skin bleaching and has banned anyone participating in what she refers to as “depigmentation”.
“It’s not even pretty,” she said. “For me, it’s just a turn off.”
“I’m trying to teach them to like themselves,” said Ndiaye of the natural-toned models selected for this year’s show.
Sophie Nzinga Sy, a couturier educated at the Parsons School of Design in New York, was infuriated when she saw billboards promoting skin lightening products around Dakar. “It was ridiculous,” she said. “Our skin is something that we should value.”
Sidling nervously between hair and make-up stations, models also expressed their support for Ndiaye’s initiative.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said model Dorinex Mboumba. “It will discourage others from the practice. We don’t need to change the colour of our skin to be beautiful.”