Model Ebonee Davis on Why Inclusion "Doesn't Just Mean One Token Black Model"

Model (people),Fashion

Last summer, model Ebonee Davis learned Alton Sterling was killed by police on the same day that she saw herself—dark skin, natural hair, round nostrils and all—in a Calvin Klein campaign for the first time. The former was a heartbreaking, angering loss to the black community, while the latter was a hopeful step towards black women being fully accepted in the world of fashion and beauty. They were two starkly different events, but together, they motivated the 19-year-old to pen an open letter to the fashion industry, describing how fashion perpetuates systematic racism in America, and how it can dismantle it. "Systemic racism began with slavery and has woven itself into the fabric of our culture, manifesting through police brutality, poverty, lack of education, and black incarceration," she wrote. "The most dangerous contributors? Advertising, beauty and fashion." After months of candidly sharing her story as a black model, Davis' fight is not over yet. She recently led an impassioned TEDx Talk at the University of Nevada, released yesterday, about her experiences with racism in modeling, why she called out the fashion industry in her letter, and how the industry can be more inclusive. "Despite the burn of chemical on my scalp and smell of sulfur that filled the room, I was entranced at the prospect of having straight hair. It was beautiful. It was celebrated. And I with my kinky coils felt inadequate." On experiences of racism throughout her modeling career: "I had white agents with no knowledge of black hair care...

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