My Story: Model Cédrick Dauberton on Facing and Overcoming Discrimination in the Fashion Industry
Welcome to My Story, our weekly series dedicated to creatives of colour and their paths to success. By championing these diverse stories and backgrounds, we hope that our understanding of the cultural conversations around beauty and fashion will expand and that respect for our differences will flourish.
Meet, Cédrick Dauberton, a model from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe who now calls Toronto home. Since being scouted by a casting director in Paris while finishing up his Master’s Degree in finance, Cédrick has been tapped by Italian fashion house Missoni for gigs. Away from the catwalk, Cédrick is also an aspiring actor. Here, he shares, in his own words, his experience as a model of colour in an industry where Eurocentric features have long been the standard of beauty.
On his home island of Guadeloupe:
“All my family lives there, and I visit them as often as I can. A good thing about my island is that it’s very peaceful with a wonderful quality of life, away from big-city stress. I would describe the culture of Guadeloupe as a mix of Indian, African, and French. You can see this diversity through the music, art, food, and the traditions. Based on all these elements, I would say that Guadeloupe culture is vibrant and colourful. My favourite thing about my island is the breathtaking landscapes, from the beaches to the mountains, as well as the generosity and kindness of the people there.”
On encountering push-back from job castings because of his look:
“In France, my profile wasn’t brought to the forefront. The French market is complicated for people with my look and appearance as we have not historically been representative of typical beauty standards in Europe. I had many castings in which I was told afterward that they didn’t want to select people of colour. There was one casting where I was not even let in because the team decided at the last minute that they didn’t want diversity. It feels strange to get cancelled because of my skin, and sad to see that people tend to push the fault onto others, saying that they didn’t want to take the ‘risk’. On the other hand, some people that I worked with were bringing some change and pushing me forward despite the obstacles: I am proud to have been chosen as the face of several French brands.”
On the hardest lesson he’s learned as a fashion model:
“Modelling can be very challenging, especially when you don’t fit the ‘usual’ standards. I used to doubt myself a lot when I started, and I was a bit too harsh with myself, too. Some events in my career made me think I wasn’t worthy enough compared to my colleagues, which is not true. But what came out of it is that I realized that there was nothing wrong about being Black in this industry. I learned to love myself more and embrace my differences.”
On the proudest moment of his modelling career:
“When I did my first fashion show in Milan for Missoni. I realized I wanted to open the door for other people coming from minority cultures to be represented, to pursue their dreams and accomplish them, wherever they come from.”
On working in Canada vs. Europe:
“It’s been pretty much one year since I moved to Canada. I would say the most significant difference is that professionals in the fashion industry in Canada are more willing to work with people of colour. I will also add that working in Canada, I feel more recognized; I believe that there is more space for people with my look. This market is new for me, but I have the feeling that it’s more welcoming.”
On where boundaries still need still need to be broken in the fashion industry:
“Diversity should be normalized in the fashion industry and not seen as something trendy. I want to see more brands walk the talk about diversity. The industry of course needs to work on racism, but there are other issues to tackle as well, including better representation of people of different gender expressions, and adopting more body positivity for everyone to be able to identify.”
On the Black Lives Matter movement:
“As a person of colour, I feel overwhelmed by discrimination and violence towards minorities. I have faced discrimination based on my skin in the past. Most of the time, I tried to ignore it and convince myself to not see it just to keep my sanity in my professional and personal life. Looking back now, I have to admit that I was just too afraid to point it out, maybe because I didn’t want to be put in a box or blacklisted. The power of this movement, however, is teaching me not to remain silent anymore about this. I want to use my voice to stand against any type of discrimination. I think people should be accepted the way they are and feel safe regardless of their race, gender, body type, etc. I do believe that we are in the centre of something great, something that I hope will build a much better world for all of us and the next generations coming after. The beauty of this movement for me is that it’s us (Black, white, Asian, Latino, etc) all united against racism.”
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