"The visibility on these commercials and billboards matter as much as having elected a first black President. The next generation can only get inspired and reach for the stars themselves if they believe they can do it too. For that reason, diversity in ad campaigns is, in my opinion, much more important than you might think." -Deddeh Howard

Photography courtesy of Raffael Dickreuter

The unchanged lens of fashion and luxury brands is being challenged.

As we move forward into the new year and beyond, it is important for women to connect with and laud each other. This form of self-care through connecting with others is imperative.

Why?

Because Representation Matters

Think about it for a moment: Who do you envision when you think about "fashion models?"

Do you think about textured curls and full, pouting lips and rich dark skin tones? I’d bet you my bottom dollar that you had to left-swipe a few images of white women in your mind's eye before you said Naomi Campbell, Iman, and Daisy Fuentes to yourself. Don’t feel bad. I had to do it, too.

Lack of representation forces women of color to place themselves into shoes that will never, ever fit.

In my youth, I consumed images of a particular type of "beauty." It wasn't always black or brown. From dolls to magazine covers, my eyes were fed images of women that looked nothing like me. I didn’t mind or, more specifically, I didn’t notice this unbalanced representation until I began acquiring my Bachelor's degree in Fashion Merchandising.
During this time, I realized that images of white women were preferred to all others in the industry. Although many women of color in media were present in the pages of Ebony and Jet, other fashion magazines were not sharing images of non-white women in abundance. This remarkable unbalance has been unpalatable for decades. So... how will it change and who will sign off on it?
Photography courtesy of Raffael Dickreuter

Who Run It?

Because the fashion industry has done a bang-up job of hammering Eurocentric beauty standards into the psyches of women throughout the world, it’s nearly impossible for women of color to smash the industry’s lens.When faced with the notion of inclusivity, a term that begs for the various diaspora to be represented in high fashion imagery and popular forms of entertainment, there is a blip of notice in the industry that typically lasts the lifespan of a television news clip. Yeah… that's not very long.
So, what happens when an actual fashion model is constantly rejected by the industry that is designed to exalt and promote her beauty?

Black Mirror: The Campaign That's Challenging Beauty Standards

In the case of fashion model and blogger Deddeh Howard, her skin color played a huge role in the constant rejection of her body. Howard was told on a regular basis that even though her "look" was nice or beautiful or what-have-you, there were "enough" black women on the agency’s or photographer’s roster to help clients execute their campaigns.

Howard had heard enough of this regurgitated excuse and did what only she could do: challenge the fashion industry by proving that her skin color not only enhanced iconic advertising and fashion campaigns - making them more visually captivating.
Photography courtesy of Raffael Dickreuter

Howard and her partner Raffael Dickreuter created the Black Mirror campaign, a photographic challenge to the beauty industry.

This campaign is important for all of us to recognize, applaud, and share with others because fashion dictates trends that will inevitably saturate the natural hair care space, as with all other branches of the beauty industry.

Black Mirror serves to help us start conversations of identity representation in the media so that industry leaders gain a more clear-eyed assessment of our kaleidoscopic landscape.

Naturally You, Always

With Deddeh Howard's remarkable images of fashion icons, seasoned and reimagined, I hope that you can see a part of yourself in them with a bit more ease.  The height of self-care is envisioning the goodness and reveling in the beauty of ourselves. It's a truth that we're not often encouraged to explore. We need to change that.

The Black Mirror campaign is a gift that Howard has bestowed upon all of us and it will impact the lives of young people of color around the world.

Photography courtesy of Raffael Dickreuter

Update What You Digest

Deddeh Howard is a remarkable person and invaluable to the beauty industry on the whole. Connect with her on Instagram today to stay inspired by her powerful insights and motivational musings.

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As ever, stay curly!