Tell It Tuesday: Naomi Campbell & the Secret to Staying Lit

Naomi Campbell
By Ta-ning Connai

All Hail the Queen...the queen of beauty and fashion that is. Naomi Campbell got crowned Fashion Icon at the CFDA Awards recently and no model deserves it more. Over 30 years in a youth-obsessed biz, now that's the real definition of longevity! And though she makes it look effortless, her journey was not easy. 

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Naomi werked it all day EVERY DAY. She's got over 500 magazine covers, including the first black woman on the cover of Time Magazine...she’s worked with greats like Versace, Burberry, Valentino and Chanel, but it doesn't mean she hasn’t been affected by racism nonetheless. 

In the 90’s, the highly coveted beauty was one of six models who collectively inspired the phrase we all now know as “Supermodel.” However, she never got the major endorsement deals or pay rates that her white counterparts did. 


Now, that could possibly be due to her highly publicized ‘tude,’ as she didn't exactly exhibit “model" behavior behind the scenes. And while she may have mastered the runway with her signature strut, for many, working with her was no walk in the park. She was notorious for showing up late, having major tantrums, and doing heavy drugs. But party girl antics never stopped 90’s supermodel Kate Moss from being tolerated and enabled; hence the reason most of us think Naomi's limitations were mainly about race.

Ms. Campbell has made a lot of positive changes since her glory days though. She removed herself from the spotlight for a while, got sober and even reached back to help director Lee Daniels and designer Marc Jacobs to get sober too. And while in anger management (a requirement for hitting folks with cell phones!), she took the initiative to realize her issues, which is the only way these programs actually work.

Fashion for Relief is a charity founded by Naomi and it has helped raise over 6 million dollars for various causes. She also joined forces with famed modeling agent Bethann Hardison and model-turned-mogul, Iman, in the fight for diversity, which has proven to be an effective team for demanding more color in the game. Just last year alone, a bit over 35% of the models working New York Fashion Week were black, which is huge considering that “white only" catwalks are constantly the norm. And just this February, history was made as Anok Yai became the second black woman to open Prada’s show in over 20 years. You know who was #1? NAOMI CAMPBELL! And Anok graciously praised her for paving the way! 

Even with Naomi having a dark and checkered past, her legacy is filled with inspiration. Yeah and so what, her light got dim, but once again she is LIT.

A woman from the Bible with the same name and a different past had a similar situation...And even through a very difficult time in her life, her light could still be seen...

Naomi was too through when she lost everything...the family biz, property, husband AND sons (Ruth Ch. 1-4). With nothing left and nothing she could possibly do, Naomi could no longer even bear the sound of her own name. She demanded to be called Mara instead; but Mara means bitter and bitter ain't sweet, which means she was in a funk so deep and dark a cloud couldn't compete! Yet there must've been some kind of inner glow going on because her daughter-in-law, Ruth (who lost everything too), suddenly declared allegiance to Naomi's God and vowed to never leave her side. 

So, wait a minute...You mean to tell me that we can be at the end of our rope, too through to cope, completely out of hope, and God can STILL use our dim and seemingly snuffed fire to ignite flameless souls? According to Matthew 5:16, the answer is an astounding YES! 
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Naomi's wisdom hooked Ruth up to the T! When the fly guy came chasing, she schooled Ruth on how to do things right. In the end, Ruth got her man without having to get got, Naomi got her land back AND a grandbaby that was part of lineage of Jesus Christ! Naomi had a moment of darkness, but Ruth saw she was still LIT!

When we're at our best, we have no doubt that we are the radiant, blazing, beams of sunshine we were oh so destined to be. But sometimes we're gonna feel like a tiny matchstick drenched by a tall, gigantic bucket of water. Thankfully, our light is not predicated on our good deeds, our wondrous circumstances or the right timing in our lives. Now if you acting a fool and you're way off track, your light needs a major inspection! But to those who walk the walk (not just talk the talk) your light ain't going nowhere! And just like with Naomi, somewhere there's a Ruth being inspired by your shine! 

Who's been the biggest inspiration in your life?
TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie! 

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