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Curly Nikki

Segregated Ads May Send Wrong Message

By September 8th, 202114 Comments
by Kristian Richards via

Earlier this year, National Public Radio featured a Segregated Ads May Send Wrong Messagerevealing story that provided candid insight into how increasing the visibility of black models during a 1970′s French fashion show changed the industry forever. During this time black models were considered “exotic rarities” and the emergence of an abundance of models of color made for a “turning-heads kind of revolution.”

Today, Ford Modeling Agency is considered one of the top agencies in the United States known for their top-notch models and global impact in fashion. They recently released a promotional catalog exclusively featuring black models of all shapes and sizes, ranging from 4 to 14.

Media outlets from beauty blogs to fashion sites are all varying on their reactions to the promo.

Huffington Post lightheartedly describes Ford Models as jumping on the “models-of-color-bandwagon.” Yet, some feel that while the spread speaks to the progressive career of these women, a bigger issue might be being ignored about the seemingly innocent relegation of black models.

Historically, black female models and entertainers have typically been underrepresented and, at times, horribly misrepresented in the media. However, legendary, beautiful and ubiquitous black models like Beverly Johnson, Iman, Tyra Banks and others have made some very significant strides forward within the industry.

When asked about her opinion on the Ford Models promo shoot, New York stylist KaiLee Parker countered with a significant question of her own.

“Why is it always all the black girls in one editorial as opposed to black models sprinkled through out the entire magazine?”Segregated Ads May Send Wrong Message

Her inquiry speaks to a trend that’s surfaced in the fashion world. Recently, a number of fashion publications have also chosen to exclusively feature black models in their promotional spread as well as in magazine editorials. Vogue Italia released an issue earlier this year in February for a spread aptly named “Black Allure” starring a handful of currently popular models, including Ajak Deng, Lais Ribeiro, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn.

Parker, who recently styled three-time Grammy award winners Erica Campbell and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary for their Good Morning America appearance, offered her frank opinion on the emerging fad.

“I love that more agencies are showing more diversity when it comes to their black model roster. However, it seems like we only get featured as a collective unit.”

Interestingly, Ford Models also released a promotional spread that exclusively featured blond, plus-size models, bringing our collective attention to a broader issue within the modeling and fashion world aside from race or skin color.

Because diversity includes a number of issues across a wide spectrum of factors, maybe singling out specific groups to showcase sends an unclear message to the audience.

On the one hand, the exclusive attention is appreciated, and in the case of black models, well overdue. However, for some, it may not be seen as a solution towards incorporating more black models into regular fashion spreads, but rather, another way of needlessly designating them apart from their peers.

For others, the promo spread represents a step towards highlighting their unique potential and illuminating their noteworthy contributions to an industry that initially rejected them.

Weigh in!


  • Anonymous says:

    I feel like the only reason why they showcase black women by themselves in magazine spreads is because they don't want us to feel like we are on the level of other nationalities of women, so it's kind of like watching an all black movie. Black women are beautiful among their own kind. They do this in hopes of our support of purchasing the magazine and at the same time keeping us in an inferior position.

  • Chic Noir says:


    I love models and high fashion so let me say this. One of the reasons why you see so many blk models featured togeather in editorials is because it gives the magazines and designers a chance to display more looks in a smaller space.

    I see multi girl editorials with white models and I also see multi girl editorials with a mix of models from different backgrounds. I have no idea why some blk people would be offened to see a group of blk models togeather.

    Vogue Italia and American Vogue have featured blk models in threads where they are included with other models who are not blk. vogue USA features blk model single editorials.

  • Chicworkingmom says:

    I agree that we can't cry about everything. I mean come on!! I feel that complaining about everything really hinders our progress because that's when people STOP listenting to the REAL issues…we have so many trivial ones. If the mags want to feature us in 1 entire issue, let it be and let these models WERKKK! Obviously, we should be in the regular ones as well but I don't think saying "we don't one a special issue" is how to go about it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with the anonymous 2 spots ahead of me. If we want to be featured more in a way that is less patronizing, then perhaps we need to start our own magazines like Ebony, Jet, etc. Plain and simple.

  • Anonymous says:

    Just yesterday i was watching a show called ''pretty sexy things'' here in the UK a well known phtographer Perou recruited 8models to star in his potoshoots or whatever u call it, There is this very model material black that the guy absolutely loves and he is always saying what a great model he is, he takes awesome pics and all the praises. Then on yesterday preview for next week episode the black model went for an appointment at elite model(or some well know agency like that)They lay it straight on him that ''for milan fashion week they don't really recruit black models bcs they are really not preferred'' straight like that i was so shocked that i had tears on my eyes. Just to say all this 'model of colour' trend is a facade to try and please us but down under they damn well know black models are still very much discriminate against and have less chance. It is sad

  • Anonymous says:

    Damned if they do, damned if they don't. I personally recognize that we've been "sprinkled" sprinkled throughout the larger magazines. I also relish the opportunity to have an issue dedicated to us exclusively. And we don't stop there. We still "celebrate ourselves in our own magazines" and we still push for more and DIFFERENT types of exposure. But come on folks… we cry if we're not shown at all, we cry if we're only "sprinkled" throughout, we cry if we are forced to segregate and create our own venue and we now we cry when we're given exclusivity. When are we satisfied?

  • Anonymous says:

    Personally I don’t read any of these fashion magazines mentioned, I prefer Essence or Ebony type publications when it comes to style/fashion. Aside from that I think it is clear that mainstream America still and always will see black women as exotic or that "other" type of beauty unless the woman has features comparable to European women. But honestly I don’t care what "mainstream" thinks about our beauty or style, I never have nor ever will.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have to wonder if it's because when you see these sista models they look so stunning that you can't help but look at them. Maybe they are afraid those models will outshine the rest? I'm just saying.

    It reminds me of telling my hubby how hot Jessica White is and that she should have been the top model at Victoria's Secret. She's way more beautiful than the rest. But it seems like they aren't ready for all that flyness. We always get the back seat when it comes to fashion.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sounds like "separate but equal" to me…..smh

  • socialitedreams says:

    I also wondered why they keep needing these "specialty" issues for plus or black models…jeez, just incorporate into the NORM because guess what, we are NORMAL. There doesn't need to be some once a year "us only" issue, just use the models regularly and keep them working like other models. I'm tired of being singled out as some "other" type of woman…just let them be beautiful and models, completely normal.


  • MrsWardy88 says:

    when things like this is brought up… I try to figure out what is the "perfect" mash of races? Should magazines have half and half advertisments etc.. of black and whites? Or should we just have our own thing, every other month? Its always going to be an issue…. that no one will agree on. But never the less, i believe its a good thing.:)

  • Anonymous says:

    Amen ANon 7:06.

    As long as we allow ourselves to be the "commercial asterisk" for someone else to line their pockets with our hardearned money, it will continue to happen. Money is G R E E N and not getting it is H A R D!
    They exhibit our beauty as an exception to the beauty "standard and norms" of their magazines (or whatever format)! I haven't bought one of these magazines (or even looked at one) in years.

  • Anonymous says:

    Let's face it. Magazines recognized how much money the first Italian Vogue Black Issue made. Not other editorials are following suit.


    Why can't we build our own fashion industries, celebrate ourselves in OUR OWN MAGAZINES. How long must we be kept at the mercy of racist fashion designers, begging them to accept us? Isn't this pitiful. All the while they laugh all the way to the bank, cashing in our insecurities that THEY helped to construct.

    WAKE UP!

  • Unknown says:

    I've thought the same thing as KaiLee, why is it always a "special edition" or "one-of-a-kind" type of editorial/ad when it features all black models. I feel like magazines and companies are waving a "we love you blacks!' flag whenever they do something like this, trying to prove that they're soooo "diverse". Honestly, while I find the editorials gorgeous, I'd be much more impressed if, as KaiLee stated, they just sprinkled us in throughout the magazine/advertisements without the flashing lights and pointing fingers saying 'look! look! We support black people!'…Just my thoughts 🙂


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