One of the original five supermodels, Naomi Campbell has established herself as one of the most recognizable and in-demand models of the past four decades. Campbell is beautiful, intelligent, kind, and inspiring – all traits of her that make her worthy of being honored during Women’s History Month.
Born in London, Campbell attended the Italia Conti Academy stage school before signing with the Synchro Modeling Agency at the age of 15.
Campbell’s career skyrocketed after her first cover of Elle and she became the first black model to appear on the cover of British and French Vogue. The following year, she appeared on the cover of Vogue America, which marked the first time a black model graced the front page of the September issue, traditionally the biggest and most important issue of the year.
She has also graced the covers of over 500 magazines during her career and has been featured in campaigns for Burberry, Prada, Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino.
While breaking boundaries and breaking glass ceilings, Campbell received tons of racial discrimination throughout his career. She reported facing prejudice within the fashion community and having to fight against an industry that didn’t include it as part of their conventional beauty standard.
“This business is about selling and blonde and blue-eyed girls are what it sells,” Campbell said according to The Guardian.
Despite the bias she has faced, through her determination, her obvious talent and the support of friends, family and community, she has found success throughout her life.
Now Naomi uses her experiences to pave the way for other aspiring black models. Campbell has become a mentor to a new generation of black models like Adut Akech and Anok Yai.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry has pushed for greater inclusiveness in all areas, including sizes and color. However, the many stories of black models facing discrimination during Fashion Week was one of the many issues raised by Naomi.
The need for diversity is not just about the catwalk. Too often, dark-skinned models have to contend with limited resources backstage.
Supermodels Jourdan Dunn, Akech, and Leomie Anderson have talked about stylists who aren’t equipped to work with black models and force them to resort to wearing makeup and styling themselves.
“When I was younger, I ran into the same problem,” Campbell told Teen Vogue. “I would be backstage at the shows and there would be designers who had no experience of working with black models. It’s disappointing to hear that color models are still having the same problems after all these years. “
In addition to fashion, Campbell is also a philanthropist and is responsible for extensive fundraising and charitable works in South Africa and around the world. She began collaborating with Nelson Mandela in 1993 and in 1997 called her for his endless activism.
Raised not only as a black girl, but also as a dark skinned girl, Campbell was one of my biggest inspirations.
It is proof that beauty comes in all complexions and that, despite having faced severe adversity, she persevered and is now one of the most important supermodels of her time.
She continues to shed light on important issues like racism and prejudice in the fashion industry and participates in philanthropic and charitable works to give back to her community.