Beautiful

12. Midnight. Top deck, halfway down on the left.

I overheard a young woman – a model or actress – talking to a friend on the phone. She was wearing tight jeans and a funky mesh top in primary colours. As she told her story I became more and more angry.

‘I just need my big break. Yeah, it was OK in the end. But because I’m black my hair won’t do that mixed-race, fluffy, flowing thing. They told me to take the oil out of it and I explained I had to have it so it would stay down. They don’t get it because they never cast black girls. Then they said at least it should be as dry as possible, so they made me go across the road to the hotel and borrow a hairdryer and dry it in the street – I’m not kidding… I was the only black girl. When it was done they liked it, they said it was better. But they didn’t stop there. They put red lipstick on me, dolled me up… I looked like one of those porcelain dolls, not like me. It’s like they were trying to literally cover up the fact I was black. As soon as I got to Harrod’s I changed it. And they haven’t booked me since and I haven’t called them. It’s just… they made me feel like I couldn’t be beautiful without looking like them.’

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