The INSIDER Summary:
• Deddeh Howard is a Nigerian-born model, fashion blogger, and medical student.
• She teamed up with a photographer to recreate famous fashion ads.
• The project was inspired by the troubling lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry.
Deddeh Howard is a busy woman: The 27-year-old — who was born in Nigeria and now lives in Los Angeles — is a medical student and runs a successful fashion blog.
She’s also a model, but she’s found that being a model of colour means facing major discrimination.
“Agencies would often tell me, “We like your look but there’s a black girl already.’ It shouldn’t be limited to just one black girl; there can be more than one! It’s as if [agencies] are ashamed to represent diversity,” she told BuzzFeed news. “There are many beautiful black models and they are not represented the way they should be.”
In fact, one day at the grocery store, she bought a stack of different fashion magazines just to see how well women of colour were represented. The results were disappointing.
“I brought all of the magazines home and turned the pages and said to my boyfriend, ‘Have you seen this? There’s not a black girl!” she told Cosmopolitan.
That’s when she got the idea for Black Mirror, a photo series in which her boyfriend (photographer Raffael Dickreuter) helped her recreate famous fashion ads featuring white models.
It took Howard and Dickreuter around three months to shoot the photos, BuzzFeed reports — it was tough to find just the right clothes, accessories, and props to replicate each shot down to the last detail.
The photos aren’t meant to disparage the women who appeared in the original ads. It’s simply meant to illustrate the fact that models of colour are just as beautiful — and just as capable — as models who are white.
“It’s not going against [the models],” Howard told Cosmopolitan. “I’m not saying I’m more beautiful than them. I’m just saying if they can do it, I can do it.”
The response to Black Mirror has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, Howard has been contacted by lots of other women of colour who told her they have faced similar discrimination.
“I’ll be honest, I’ve just broken down crying since yesterday. It’s been so unbelievable,” she told Cosmopolitan. “Girls are sending me emails about them being rejected by agencies. Asian girls, black girls, Hispanic girls. It’s unbelievable that people have felt the exact same way […] I’m so grateful for everybody.”
The good news: Howard told Cosmopolitan that she’s already been approached by some fashion brands asking her to participate in photo shoots. The better news: Some have even asked for advice on how to better promote diversity.
See more photos from the Black Mirror series on photographer Raffael Dickretuer’s website.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.