Naomi Campbell Speaks Out on How Diversity Has Evolved in Modeling

Naomi Campbell has received many honors throughout her career, and now she’s gearing up to accept the Fashion Icon award from the British Fashion Council at the 2019 Fashion Awards, and she's talking about diversity in modeling.

To say Campbell, 49, is a fashion icon is an understatement. She’s graced the covers of over 500 magazines, was the first black model on the cover of French Vogue, and she’s one of the most recognizable supermodels in the world.

Caroline Rush, the Council’s chief executive, said of the impressive honor, ”Naomi represents female empowerment, activism and glamour, and her voice is used for great impact. We are thrilled to present the Fashion Icon award to Naomi and acknowledge her for her remarkable contribution to the global fashion industry, and we look forward to celebrating with her in London in December."

Naomi has dominated the industry for decades, so how has she seen it change over the years? When speaking with BBC Newsnight after the reveal of her recipient status, she touched on its advancement in diversity, but noted that the movement shouldn’t be seen as a “trend.”

Naomi shared, “Yes, it’s amazing to see this diversity that’s happening on the runways and in magazine covers. To see more than one woman of color or diversity on a magazine cover at a time is a big deal, but it really shouldn’t be.”

When asked if she thought there would be more progress at this point, she responded, “It’s not a trend. People shouldn’t feel that if they don’t use diversity it’s not… they’re not doing what’s right.”

Naomi also spoke about colorism in the fashion world. “I have seen that, and that’s what I’m talking about when I say it’s not a trend. All skin tones of diversity stay.” When asked if that message has gotten through, she replied, “Time will tell.”

Last April, Naomi spoke to Vogue UK about her experience in the industry when she was starting her career. “I used to have to fight for the same fee as my [white] counterparts doing the same job.”

On what it’s like today, she said, “It’s still not balanced completely. I’m the face of a new campaign, and I was told that because of the color of my skin, a certain country would not use my picture. For me it was a reality check. I never believe in the hype, so it just kept things in perspective for me. Now I would like to know that models [of color] get the same opportunities and fees in advertising.”

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