We got used to the fact that Fashion itself, as well as top models, are rather diverse. Nowadays there are models on catwalks of different races and nationalities, but was it always like that? Let’s look back twenty or even ten years ago when it was impossible to see other race rather then white walking on a podium. As far as we can recall, Naomi Campbell was one of the first models who started breaking stereotypes regarding top model’s appearance. Still, the vast majority of campaigns involve white models while there is only 11 percent of the job is given to black models.
Liberian model and blogger Deddeh Howard is among recent social activists who are tired of seeing white models dominating billboards and fashion podiums. Likewise, Howard has implemented “Black Mirror Project”- a project that promotes more diversity in fashion. Along with a photographer Rafael Dickreuter, Howard has recreated the major campaigns that originally feature white models. The original pictures of compelling brands were copied by the black models and posed exactly the same positions white models had in the original advertisements.
“The first criterion was to identify brands that truly never or almost never use black models and where we felt strongly that black models would look great representing them as well. We were surprised to find out that there were so many of them,” Howard told Mic “Then for each brand, we tried to find a shot that was ideally famous and striking at the same time and that would look great when being re-shot. In the end, it was important to have a diverse collection of different products as well, covering sunglasses, bags, jewelry, etc. to cover a broad range of the fashion industry,” said Howard. Howard has specifically targeted such campaigns as Calvin Klein, Chanel, Guess, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana. Howard’s activism and courage must be definitely encouraged. The model has been in the fashion field since she was 18 and because of her ethnicity Howard, 27, was rejected by numerous agencies a few times before. Such factor has definitely instigated her to make social activism by sending another message to the world of fashion.
"To be told that there were only one or two Black girls like Naomi [Campbell] and Iman to represent me, it was just very damaging to my image. I always felt like I didn't fit in or like the white girl was more beautiful than I am," she recalls. "It just really affected my self-esteem growing up," Howard said.
By: Diana Igumnova