It doesn’t take much to anger Naomi Campbell but the latest thing to spark her ire is certainly understandable. On the show ‘The Face’, where Campbell acts as a coach for models aspiring to make it big in the modeling business, contestant Devyn said she didn’t consider herself to be a black model. Despite her being obviously black, she made a comment about her “fair skin” in a way that makes it seem to the audience that it would preclude her from the problems that other black models might have. Her revelation was uncovered during and exchange took place in an interview with Wendy Williams.
Wendy: Is it hard to be a black girl model?
Devyn: I don’t really consider myself as a black girl model. I know what my ethnicity is, but I’m fair-skinned and I feel like I have an international look.
Wendy: So you don’t feel black?
Devyn: No, that’s not what I said, whatsoever.
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Naomi Campbell (chimes in off to the side): What the f*ck does she mean? That’s a disgrace! She’s a black girl.
Wow! Chanel Iman, one of the top models in the world and also a black girl (with fairer skin than this Devyn chick) has talked about her difficulty booking jobs as a result of her race. If Chanel Iman is have that issue, and by all accounts she’s made it, then Devyn doesn’t stand a chance with that attitude. Clearly, like Campbell noted, Devyn is a black girl. Her international look means nothing to those in the business who are looking for a white or tan, non-black model.
While Devyn might be trying to get around her race in the industry, sadly, she is seeking employment in an industry that builds and perpetuate stereotypes regularly. Instead of seeing her race as a non-factor, she needs to embrace it in order to face the harsh reality that for some, even in this day and age, her race is seen as ‘less than’ when it comes to beauty. She doesn’t need to take on ownership of that belief, but she does need to acknowledge that it’s there from others.
In any other industry, leading with race as a key factor for or against employment is not a good thing. However, in the modeling industry it seems par for the course. Should Devyn have answered a different way? Or should she continue to let her work speak for itself, regardless of her race?