#FridayFeminist: Naomi Campbell
“When I started out, I wasn’t being booked for certain shows because of the colour of my skin ... I didn’t let it rattle me. From attending auditions and performing at an early age, I understood what it meant to be black. You had to put in the extra effort. You had to be twice as good.” – Naomi Campbell
By 1990, supermodels weren’t just a thing, they were celebrities, and film stars too. Back then, Naomi Campbell was known as much for her antics pasted on the front pages of the tabloids as for her grace and beauty on the catwalk.
Music videos were a big creative outlet in the 90s, and one of the best came from George Michael, his song Freedom! ‘90 became the anthem of the decade.
The video featured supermodels Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell.
It wasn’t that video that got Naomi’s career started, it was her appearance at age 7 in Bob Marley’s music video for Is This Love that got her noticed.
At 15 years-old, the South London-born stunner was scouted, and she became the first black model to grace the cover of French Vogue and TIME magazine.
During the 90s, Naomi was vocal about the racism black models faced at the time. The first black supermodel did not see the same opportunities offered to her as her white counterparts.
Throughout her career as a model, Campbell made the racial bias that exists in the fashion industry known.
In 1997, she said, “There is prejudice. It is a problem and I can’t go along any more with brushing it under the carpet. This business is about selling, and blonde and blue-eyed girls are what sells.”
She spoke to it again through an excerpt from her book quoted by the Independent in March 2016, “When I started out, I wasn’t being booked for certain shows because of the colour of my skin,... I didn’t let it rattle me. From attending auditions and performing at an early age, I understood what it meant to be black. You had to put in the extra effort. You had to be twice as good.”
Today, Naomi is a humanitarian, an author, and an actress. Her list of achievements is long. Not everyone can call themselves Nelson Mandela’s honorary goddaughter.
Naomi has supported Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund almost since beginning her career as a supermodel, using her contacts in the fashion industry to fundraise. She is also a supporter of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and in 2005, founded a charity, We Love Brazil, to raise awareness and help fight poverty.
The same year, Naomi founded a charity Fashion for Relief, that held fashion shows to fund-raise and benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina, Mumbai terrorist attacks, and the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan. All told, by 2011, Fashion for Relief reportedly has raised £4.5 million.
But she’s not avoiding scandal. Called out recently on Instagram for posting snaps of her safely travelling through the airport, Naomi’s fans were divided over her practices.
Many came to her defence, stating that Naomi was being responsible by wearing protective gear, including a hazmat suit through the airport, and they also let her critics know where Naomi had purchased her face masks. From Amazon. As such, she had not depleted the medical community of any supplies meant for front-line workers.
How her fans knew that, we’re not exactly sure, maybe she kept her receipts.
One thing is for sure though, today Naomi Campbell is turning 50 years old! If this is what being 50 years old looks like, we’re in, and we can’t wait to see what our #FridayFeminist does next.