Deddeh Howard has set her sights on turning the modeling industry on its head. The fashion model is using her “Black Mirror” campaign to expose the lack of diversity in the modeling industry. The 27-year-old fashion model and medical student has been rejected for modeling jobs and shares that all too often, black girls are usually included as “an afterthought” in modeling campaigns.
Howard grew up in Africa and was raised by loving parents that taught her to view black and white people as equal. She started modeling at the age of 18 and has since discovered that in this world of color–particularly in the modeling industry, because of the color of her skin, she’ll be challenged with rejection and frustration.
“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,” she recently told Elle.
She added: “You have 100 white girls but you only have two or three black girls—and you’re turning me down because of that? It’s such a shame that they try to cast a couple and are like, ‘This girl represents everybody,‘” Howard says.
“Like Victoria’s Secret—they cast the same black girl and they use her all the time. Do you not believe another girl can do the same thing she’s doing?”
She wrote on her website:
“I would walk into various fashion model agencies and I would immediately be compared to that one or two black model that they had on the roster. Even though I was told by those agencies that I have an amazing look and wish they could represent me, they already have a black model. Besides having an abundance of white models. It seemed as if one or two black models on the roster are enough to represent us all.”
With the assistance of her photographer boyfriend Raffael Dickreuter, Howard is personally fighting for more diversity, especially more black models to be seen in more advertisements and on more billboards. She created Black Mirror . A campaign where she recreates some of the more well known poses in the most iconic advertisements. In her project, she shows what it would look like if a black model was featured in famous campaigns by showing the comparison with her images along side the likes of Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss, and Gisele Bundchen. She says, “We need a diverse amount of inspirations for all of us.”
“For this project I decided to re-shoot several of the inspiring and famous campaigns out there and try to show what they could look like with a black model,” Howard wrote. “Why can’t the big brands not embrace our diversity more and give all of us visibility? With this Black Mirror project I hope to show the world that it is time for all of us being seen.”
“The #BlackMirror has nothing to do with Racist, it’s about diversity. It’s about representation, it’s about fairness and respect. How many Asian models are there?, Indiana models?! Native American models? Or short models, plus Size models. You get the point. It’s so sad to see that ever time this topic comes up, it’s always a war. You got to understand Raffael and I are interracial couple, we worked on this project together and always saw ourselves as one not black or white and that’s powerful . so it shouldn’t be all negative. Again, all I wanted is to do something positive and inspiring about my race. So we all need to pause and think! Let’s unite not divide.”
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. I’m personally fighting for more diversity especially more black models to be seen on bill boards, movies, TV commercials, advertisements etc for us all. #blackmirrow. Full Article now on the blog at www.secretofdd.com ( line in bio). Photo credit: @raffaelphoto_com Makeup and hair by: @dgbyjd Hair by: @melissahoylehairg