Deddeh Howard was tired of being told that the agency “already had a black model” on thier books.
The 27-year-old, who has been modelling since she was 18, says being rejected for opportunities because of her skin color “crushed” her at that young age.
“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.”
Deddeh, a model from Liberia who lives and works in Los Angeles, launched “Black Mirror” to highlight the lack of diversity in the industry.
The project recreates photos from famous campaigns by Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein, and Chanel.
To demonstrate, Deddeh teamed up with photographer Raffael Dickreuter to reshoot some big campaigns by Gucci, Guess, Louis Vuitton, and Victoria’s Secret.
In a caption on one of the side by side images, Howard wrote: “The two images all being shown together should really show that we all have a place, that we all belong and should be visible!!”
In another, she wrote: “Growing up in Africa, I knew nothing about Black and White, we’re all equal, it was United we stand! At least that’s what my parents thought me and that’s what I believe in. I believe we can be whoever we want to be, so don’t let anyone tell you’re not what you want to be. If they can do it! So can you. It’s about time we stand up together..Dream and Believe”
As for aspiring models of colour, Deddeh offers this advice: “Never give up. Keep trying like I did. I want them to know that they have a chance and I hope after this, someone can see a [black model] and give them a chance. I want them to stand up for themselves, speak up, and not shy away.”