Nabila, Zara Abid defend photo-shoot being called out for promoting blackface

The model, the make-up artist and stylist called this backlash nothing more than cultural misappropriation

Entertainment Desk July 27, 2019

Last year a popular morning show received flak on social media for promoting blackface. The complexion of fair-skinned models on Sanam Jung's show was darkened in order to display how dark-skinned brides should apply make up.

However, the use of fair-skinned models with their faces painted dark led to severe backlash online. Many criticised the show for promoting "Pakistan's obsession with fair skin".

The outrage on social media was massive. One would think the rest must have caught up on how problematic the trend is, but people think celebrated stylist Nabila is yet to catch up.

The recent campaign by Nabila's Salon came under fire for darkening the skin tone of model Zara Abid, who already has beautiful tanned skin, which requires no touch ups. The shoot has been styled by Tabesh Khoja and hair and makeup services provided by Nabila herself.

This didn't go down well with Twitterati who have been calling out Nabila for promoting blackface.

However, neither the model nor the makeup artist think that's the case. Nabila and Zara took to social media to defend their recent campaign, calling the backlash bizarre.

"It doesn’t matter if you are black white or in between. I’m amazed at the backlash. A stylist has received for using a dark model , and enhancing her skin tone," she wrote on Instagram. "He is being bashed for doing a beautiful and artistic shoot with gold jewellery on dark skin. Why do the trolls have to equate being dark with African? Have they not seen how dark and gorgeous the South Asian women are?"

She further added, "Why are they not represented or celebrated? Why do we still believe white is supreme? When will we shed our colonialist mindset? The world is becoming a melting pot."

Zara, on the other hand, shared how her skin colour became the main reason many agencies won't hire her.

"I'm the first hand victim of discrimination and colourism that exists in the society," the model shared on Instagram. "The pictures shared of the shoot that have been circulating have been misconstrued and manipulated by the social media users who are often too quick to jump to conclusions."

She added the shoot did enhance her colour because she wanted to empower her darker skin. "There is a lack of representation among our dark skinned girls. Why? Because people want to see fair faces donning products as there is a longstanding and deeply-seated colonial insecurity that has always been a part of our society."

Zara went on to add how on multiple occasions she was made two or three tones lighter, so what harm did the dark skin do?

"Why didn't people stand up when I was portrayed as a lighter skin tone and are only enraged when I'm trying to represent the darker side of my population?" the model queried. "It's high time we stop shaming dark skin and embrace it with open hearts and mind."

Khoja spoke on the matter as well.

"I’m compelled to address something that has been making the rounds on social media," he shared in a statement. "The recent shoot that I uploaded became the target of cultural misappropriation and colourism/racism. The fact is that the reaction to the shoot has been blown out of proportion, largely misconstrued and heavily manipulated."

He added, "Zara Abid is a dark skin model. She is stunning and utterly unapologetic about her complexion. However, people are ignoring her natural skin tone, choosing to lighten it up through makeup and photoshop. This shoot is not a representation of any particular culture."

"Brown is beautiful, dark is divine and all complexions are equally stunning," he continued. "Shame on you guys for shunning these dark skinned beauties. Our freedom of speech, expression and creativity must not be hijacked by narrow-minded, superficial, judgmental people."

He concluded saying, "Stop bullying. Stop manipulating. Stop distorting facts and intentions. And most importantly, STOP COLOUR SHAMING."

Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below. 


Cherie | 1 year ago | Reply I think the team is just covering up their mistake instead of admitting to it. They say the skin has nothing to do with culture but every aspect represents the African, tribal culture/aesthetic, from the hair to the colour pallet and the jewelry and obviously the skin tone. Its not cultural? I get that Zara had beautifully tanned skin but there is a huge difference between tan/dusky and chocolate brown or bronze. If it was a statement they were trying to make then why not chose a Pakistani girl with a deeper skin tone? Why not give someone with the actual darker skin the chance? Also we all know how our People love to bring to everyone notice if they have done the campaign to showcase a cause but they dint bring up the whole "Zara is one of the darker skin toned models and society doesn't accept it" until people started calling them out on their cultural misappropriation.
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