Meet the model who wants to abolish our beauty paradigm

Sasha Kutabah Sarago was a model, magazine editor, documentary filmmaker and author: Today she describes herself as a paradigm destroyer.

The Wadjanbarra Yidinji, Jirrbal, and African American wants us to reject the idea of ​​beauty perpetuated by business and pop culture at large, and in her just-released memoir: Gigoroushe describes her mission for change.

Sasha Kutabah Sarago.

Sasha Kutabah Sarago.Credit:Nynno Bel Air

In the book, she traces her life surrounded by beauty, from her first job as an assistant at her mother’s salon to the revelation of seeing the black supermodels of the 1990s and then becoming a model herself. In response to this experience, she launched the first digital magazine for women of color. risein 2011.

“When I look at beauty…I tend to look at it through sovereign beauty,” she says. “Where I was born into: how my community embraces and nurtures me. If we all look at where we’re from and how beautiful we are, the lineage, the bloodlines… that’s where you break paradigms or make the change.”

In her opinion, things have changed for the better since the Black Lives Matter movement, and that fuels her belief that change will only come from the individual: “When we put the blame on government or the beauty industry, we set ourselves up for failure out of. All you have to do is look at how the system is set up and you will find your answer.”


She questions what we’ve been feeding off of popular culture, folklore and Australia’s multi-billion dollar beauty industry – specifically how women of color have been told for so long they aren’t beautiful. “If you’ve ever dimmed your light or hated how you’ve looked or searched for beauty in the wrong places, this is the book for you,” she says.

As an 11-year-old she was told, “You’re too pretty to be Aboriginal”. Back then, she says, “we internalized our shame and tried to reconcile it as best we could.” This ugly comment inspired her 2019 documentary of the same name.

While researching the film, she spent time at the State Library of Victoria, perusing shocking and offensive material about Indigenous women in articles from The Bulletin, People and even this newspaper, as well as in film, music, literature and advertising. “There seemed to be no limit to the colonial perversion that besmirched our women; there was no place for her dignity,” she writes. Meet the model who wants to abolish our beauty paradigm

Jaclyn Diaz

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