Not so long ago, it would have been crazy to think that a woman of African descent, or any woman of color, could be a widely recognized model. Strutting down the catwalk, showcasing major brands to the world? Impossible! But no longer…
We’ve fought hard to be recognised in every arena of life, and beauty and modelling is just one of them. Now we’re taking the fashion world by storm, both behind the camera and in front of it. We’re represented in our full glory – from light skinned stunners to dark skinned beauties, with every body size represented, too. Some of our models rock natural hair. Some rock wigs and weaves. But one thing’s for sure, despite all their differences, they all do us proud.
Here are six of our favorite black women models! Plus, we’ve now got a list of black male models too!
Known as the cute nickname Sunshine, Arlenis hails from the Dominican Republic. She was spotted when out with her mother as a teenager, and dove straight into a modelling career in her native country. Unfortunately, she was discriminated against because of her color. Soon, she’d had enough.
She jetted off to New York, which was a brave move, considering she didn’t speak a word of English! She walked into Marilyn Models and was signed on the spot. Anna Wintour, the formidable editor-in-chief of Vogue adored her. In Arlenis’ second week in NYC, she was already booked for shoots in Vogue and Vogue Italia!
She made her runway debut later that year for Banana Republic, and the rest is history! She’s walked for Ralph Lauren, Alexander Wang, Jean Paul Gaultier, Donna Karan, and just about everyone. She became the face of Lancome in 2008 and is still their spokesperson. Talk about killing it!
Nyakim is a dark skinned beauty, and not afraid to be proud of it! The nickname of this Sudanese-American model is Queen of the Dark. She says, “I am dripping melanin and honey, I am black without apology, and I’m keep on preaching it until you stop discriminating against me or any other dark skin for that matter.”
The Minnesota native was bullied for her dark skin growing up, but she is super proud of her South-Sudanese heritage, saying, “SOUTH SUDAN! A country with people so dark you won’t believe your eyes. Skin so rich and teeth so bright. Gosh how I love my country, my people and everything that comes with it.”
The part-time school teacher, part-time model went viral when her Instagram caption explained how an Uber driver asked her if she’d bleach her skin for $10,000. She responded by laughing so hard she couldn’t answer. When he asked, “Is that a no?” she shot back, “Hell to the f*cking yeah that’s a no! Why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God bless me with?!” That’s the kind of confidence we just can’t get enough of.
This Louisiana native is a true history maker. In 2003 she bagged the title of Miss Plus America, the first woman ever to do so, and without any pageant experience or training. We salute to that, Miss Lewis!
Later, she went on to model and feature in various TV shows. The Ebony magazine named her as one of the 6 Plus Fashion Power Players in 2014, and Bustle gave her the honor as one of the 7 Plus Size Fashion Pioneers Ahead Of Their Time in 2015.
It’s safe to say Chenese is standing out from the crowd with all these accolades, and we can see her career going stratospheric!