Why are some top modeling agencies opting for one race promos?

Earlier this year, National Public Radio featured a revealing story that provided candid insight into how increasing the visibility of black models during a 1970's French fashion show changed the industry forever. During this time black models were considered “exotic rarities” and the emergence of an abundance of models of color made for a “turning-heads kind of revolution.”


Today, Ford Modeling Agency is considered one of the top agencies in the United States known for their top-notch models and global impact in fashion. They recently released a promotional catalog exclusively featuring black models of all shapes and sizes, ranging from 4 to 14.

Media outlets from beauty blogs to fashion sites are all varying on their reactions to the promo.

Huffington Post lightheartedly describes Ford Models as jumping on the “models-of-color-bandwagon.” Yet, some feel that while the spread speaks to the progressive career of these women, a bigger issue might be being ignored about the seemingly innocent relegation of black models.

Historically, black female models and entertainers have typically been underrepresented and, at times, horribly misrepresented in the media. However, legendary, beautiful and ubiquitous black models like Beverly Johnson, Iman, Tyra Banks and others have made some very significant strides forward within the industry.

When asked about her opinion on the Ford Models promo shoot, New York stylist KaiLee Parker countered with a significant question of her own.

“Why is it always all the black girls in one editorial as opposed to black models sprinkled through out the entire magazine?”

Her inquiry speaks to a trend that's surfaced in the fashion world. Recently, a number of fashion publications have also chosen to exclusively feature black models in their promotional spread as well as in magazine editorials. Vogue Italia released an issue earlier this year in February for a spread aptly named “Black Allure” starring a handful of currently popular models, including Ajak Deng, Lais Ribeiro, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn.

Parker, who recently styled three-time Grammy award winners Erica Campbell and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary for their Good Morning America appearance, offered her frank opinion on the emerging fad.

“I love that more agencies are showing more diversity when it comes to their black model roster. However, it seems like we only get featured as a collective unit.”

Because diversity includes a number of issues across a wide spectrum of factors, maybe singling out specific groups to showcase sends an unclear message to the audience.Interestingly, Ford Models also released a promotional spread that exclusively featured blond, plus-size models, bringing our collective attention to a broader issue within the modeling and fashion world aside from race or skin color.

On the one hand, the exclusive attention is appreciated, and in the case of black models, well overdue. However, for some, it may not be seen as a solution towards incorporating more black models into regular fashion spreads, but rather, another way of needlessly designating them apart from their peers.

For others, the promo spread represents a step towards highlighting their unique potential and illuminating their noteworthy contributions to an industry that initially rejected them.

Kristian Richards

"Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for companies to have diversity in their ads (a sprinkling of everything in one magazine). Everyone would then focus on the models and not what they are advertising. If everything looks the same, it will fade to the background and we would process the products which stand out." Another ignorant comment. Do you really think people are so stupid that they are going to gawk at different races in an ad instead of looking at the clothes? Really? That comment was so ignorant BMM194 that I don't even feel like thoroughly debating it........

You people are beyond ignorant! Especially you naturalfemme. "Nothing is ever enough for you people." That's what I call pathetic. If you actually read the article, ONE of the points that was made was that Black women should be regularly incorporated into magazines instead of getting some special one time deal. Also if you read the article, you would know that this is just one point of view and does not represent the feelings of all Black people. That's why your comment is so ignnorant NATURALFEMME. Second of all, no one is complaining. This article is pointing out and issue that they feel should be adressed. You guys are the only ones here complaining. I can't believe you peole are trying to justify magazines exclusively sticking to white models. A cohesive collection of CLOTHING has NOTHING to do with the color of ones skin.

Ditto tsurface. What's wrong with having all black models? Nothing is ever enough for you people. This sort of entitlement bs is so darn frustrating. Get over your self. This is pathetic.

Everyone complains when there are all white models in magazine and now you complain when there are all black models. Make up your minds! And what about all of the other races? Do they not count? Unfortunately, it doesn't work for companies to have diversity in their ads (a sprinkling of everything in one magazine). Everyone would then focus on the models and not what they are advertising. If everything looks the same, it will fade to the background and we would process the products which stand out.

This is frustrating. So what if there is an ad with only black models??? No one complains about the exclusion of other races when a campaign features all white models. If you want a certain cohesive look, then using people of the same race makes sense. Does anyone remember Robert Palmer?????? A uniform look can have quite an impact!