'I am invisible here': Mixed-race model Jessie Gurunathan hits out at NZ's beauty industry

Mixed-race model Jessie Gurunathan has blasted New Zealand's beauty industry, calling for more acknowledgement of the country's young women of colour.

While travelling overseas visiting Mexico, LA and Canada, the Miss World New Zealand runner up told Newshub she was on "a bit of a high".

It wasn't the vibrant culture she found within each place or the scenic Rocky Mountains that captivated the model's interest, instead Gurunathan was relishing in feeling "included" - something she believes is unattainable living as a mixed-race person in New Zealand. 

"Everywhere I shopped - makeup, clothing, underwear, I was catered for," the former television presenter told Newshub.

"I was constantly stopped and complimented on my skin tone and was made to feel like a goddess every day. Coming back to New Zealand, it got me like a tonne of bricks.

"I am invisible here. It's not good enough".

On Tuesday the blogger, who has more than 15,000 followers on Instagram, took aim at decision-makers who Gurunathan believes constantly overlook a variety of skin tones in their campaigns.

"Dear New Zealand Beauty Industry, please start showcasing more diversity and inclusion in your marketing campaigns so that they're more reflective of today's rich cultural blend that makes NZ special," she wrote on Instagram.

"Young women of colour in Aotearoa deserve to feel a bit more represented, considered & part of the conversation."

Gurunathan said she doesn't think the country has caught up with the worldwide movement that is seeing beauty brands feature models from diverse backgrounds.

She implored the beauty industry to get familiar with the 'Fenty effect' - a movement kickstarted by Rihanna's hugely successful beauty line that includes more than 40 foundation shades  

The line was praised for beginning a cultural conversation around diversity in advertising. 

Gurunathan's father is south Indian-Malaysian and her mother is of European descent. The couple met when Gurunathan's father was a foreign student studying political science at Victoria Univeristy in Wellington and her mum was at teacher's college.

"I'm tired of feeling like brown girls in general aren't considered for mainstream campaigns, television work and media jobs in general," Gurunathan told Newshub.

"I remember when I was on the books at modelling and talent agencies, I would get sent on castings that called for 'exotic'."

The blogger took aim at decision-makers in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
The blogger took aim at decision-makers in an Instagram post on Tuesday. Photo credit: Jessie Gurunathan

Gurunathan claims she once missed out on her dream job hosting a cooking and travel show because she was told she wouldn't appeal to the average Kiwi housewife.

"What does the average Kiwi housewife even look like?" she asked.

Gurunathan says people of colour make up a huge part of the population and should not be ignored.

"We're only getting larger so we shouldn't be made to feel invisible or minority in our own country in 2018."

According to data analysis company Nielsen, one in three New Zealanders identify as 'non-European', which is predicted to grow to one in two by 2025.

Research states nearly half of Asian consumers (47 percent) in New Zealand shop online to find a beauty product not available in stores, compared to 31 percent of all women. 

Gurunathan says New Zealand should do better to cater for a variety of needs.

"I know I'm one person with a small platform, but I feel like what's the point of having any sort of public platform if we don't use it to speak up about things that don't feel right?"

Newshub.                                                                    

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz