What roles do race and ethnicity play in the fashion industry? Here’s one perspective. “I get really uncomfortable when I see a runway casting full of Caucasian [girls], and your token Asian girl and your token African American and your token Hispanic,” Margaret Zhang, a creative director, photographer, stylist and author of “In the Youth of Our Fury” said in an interview with Yahoo. “It gets really awkward because you know the casting director just needed to tick those boxes and actually doesn’t care about the girl.” Zhang is Chinese-Australian with a darker tan, which means she often receives confused looks when she tells people where she’s from. Despite this, the young creative has a following of over 800k on Instagram and has received praise for her work, which includes a large number of self-portraits. Deddeh “DD” Howard, a model and LA transplant who grew up in Liberia, is also hoping to reshape the idea of beauty using herself as a subject. In a recent blog post titled “Black Mirror,” Deddeh recreated some of the most popular ads to encourage diversity in the industry. Howard wrote on her Instagram that agencies would turn her down claiming that they already had someone with her look. She’d later find out there were only a few black models in a roster of dozens. That’s when the idea for this project came to mind. Check out some of the re-designed ads below, made possible with photographer Raffael Dickreuter.”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,” DD wrote on her blog, Secret of DD.
“There is the odd one here and there, but it always feels like an afterthought,” she continued. “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?”
DD’s efforts have received widespread praise. No detail is compromised in each of the shots, but more than that her message is empowering other women.
One fan wrote, “It’s so insulting isn’t it? You have a model roster full of white women and you tell me you have someone with my look and you only have 2-3 black models out of 80 models. “So annoying! I had to [re-post] her post because it really hit home for me. I used to think I was the only model that heard this. I see so many of us have been told this and it’s NOT right ! Give every ethnicity a fair shot.”
DD, who was born and raised in West Africa, says that she is personally fighting for diversity not just in ads but in movies and TV as well.
“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,” DD writes.
In addition to modeling, DD is also passionate about medicine, the human body and helping others. She is currently working toward a degree in Health Science.