We are bombarded everyday with flashy advertisement, billboards and television ads that try to inspire us to buy the products that are hitting the market. Something that always bothered me when you see these amazing images that very rarely you ever see a black woman on them. When growing up as a girl I always wondered, why the big brands such as Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Guess and many others rarely seem to use a black model? And if they do, a very small group of black models does make the cut here and there, but that group seems to remain pretty much identical over a long period of time.
In a time where black people too often are in the media for being underrepresented at important events such as the Oscars or make headlines for being targeted by the police I felt it was time to do something positive and inspiring about my race. For too long the negativity seemed to take over in the public eye.
More equal visibility of all races, being it white, black, Asian, Latino etc would help all of us believing in our potential.
I hope this project can help to bring awareness back to the positive side of black people. Unfortunately we are rarely shown in a positive light in the media, but can see countless times when yet another black person gets shot or arrested. Seeing Jasmine Tookes wearing the most expensive bra at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was so inspiring, we need more of those moments.
Black Mirror project created by Deddeh Howard and Raffael Dickreuter
Not to long ago it happened to me that 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. When you are told that, trust me, it feels bizarre.
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. Teaming up with Photographer Raffael Dickreuter it was a big challenge to reverse engineer and re-shoot these images and get as close as possible to the original. Even though it was a big challenge it was important and necessary to do it.
Yesterday at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show you could see the same pattern you can see at New York fashion week or any other famous fashion events: black girls are almost invisible. There is the odd one here and there, but it always feels like an afterthought. We live in a globalized world with nowadays many interracial couples producing mixed babies. Why can’t the big brands not embrace our diversity more and give all of us visibility?
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. The same goes for representation in movies and politics as well, but that’s a different discussion.
There are Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell and maybe Iman, but they are the exception to the rule.
With this Black Mirror project I hope to show the world that it is time for all of us being seen. Just like a Gisele Bundchen, Kate Moss or Candice Swanepoel gets to travel the world, shoot the most amazing campaigns and live an exciting life to inspire young girls, let’s give the next generation something to believe in.
In conclusion I’m personally fighting for more diversity especially more black race to be seen on billboards, movies, TV commercials, advertisements etc as much as the white race. We need a diverse amount of inspirations for all of us.
Thanks for reading.