Designer Zara Shahjahan recently confronted societal standards that have long equated beauty with white skin and sensual appeal alone. She spoke about models who received criticism online for not having a fairer complexion after their photos were uploaded for a campaign for her brand on social media.
Shahjahan — who runs a clothing brand by her own name Zara Shahjahan — posted pictures of the models to recount the experience. "Let’s talk about these pictures," she wrote.
"I had a shoot in Turkey. My team left a day earlier and the day me and the model had to leave, Turkey announced 15 days of quarantine. We were left with no choice but to hire models from there."
She said, "I tried to find girls who look South Asian and finally found these two very stunning Mexican models who flew from LA for the campaign. We were very happy, the campaign look really beautiful and we launched, but what happened after is quite disturbing."
The designer highlighted how the pictures started receiving a lot of hate.
"'They look like maids' is one comment which disturbed me the most," the designer stated. " Are we these people ? Why do we want the models to be white and sultry? Thank God for my loyal customers who know my brand and the collection was sold out but I don’t seem to get the irritation of a lot of women to these two pictures."
Shahjahan's post was well received by followers who supported the designer's stance and voiced their concerns against standards that look down upon darker skin tones and remarks that demean people from a certain socioeconomic background.
"There is inherent classicism, racism and negativity in our people," a user commented. "There are groups [on] Facebook where elite [begums] of Lahore post photos of their household staff members saying 'any horror stories?'. Judging them based on their looks, clothes and salary."
Others said the models looked beautiful regardless of the baseless criticism they received. "They are stunning girls and everyone needs to get a grip!" one user wrote.
Shahjahan is not the only one who's received such comments in relation to her model's complexions. Actor Syra Yousuf also received negative remarks on her skin tone when she posted a photo of herself in bridal wear a few months ago.
"You look like our kaam wali maasi," a user commented on her picture. Yousuf did not hold back and replied in a witty manner. "To your maasi and my twin, I give my salaam."
No one should be commenting on people's appearances like this, regardless of whether they're models or not. Remarks like these just show that people look down upon the women working in their homes, which is ridiculous. In a world where there are thousands of different skin tones and complexions, looking down on someone for being darker is absurd. Let's leave that ridiculousness in 2020.