Model Deddeh Howard is a beautiful Liberian model who says that it’s time for more diversity in fashion. She recently posted images on her site that she calls the Black Mirror Project. With the help of photographer Raffael Dickreuter, she re-shot images from major fashion campaigns that featured white models. She brings up an ongoing issue that continues to be a source of contention for models of colour. Designers and decision makers still are not open to increasing the number of non-white models used for jobs. Leaving non-white models to fight over the few jobs available for them.
It starts at the agency level when models are often turned away if they already represent one or two models of a certain race. I know I personally experienced this during my days of pursuing a career in the modelling industry. I would often be told by agencies, “We already have a black girl. So we’re not looking to represent another.” That was so many years ago and I would have expected that by now the business has changed, but from what I hear from many new models, it’s still the same game. This challenge exists not only for black models, but for all models of colour. For example, East Asian models are also rarely used in fashion campaigns and on the runway. Liu Wen, has broken fashion industry barriers by becoming the first East Asian face of Estee Lauderand the first in a Victoria Secret’s Runway fashion show.
Diversity in fashion is a continuing conversation and will only change once those who are key decision-makers realize that representing all facets of society is important.