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Naomi Campbell and her Drive for Cultural and Racial Diversity

Naomi Campbell at 2018 Cannes Film Festival (Image credit: By Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69470361)

Naomi Campbell is an Afro-Jamaican and Chinese-Jamaican model raised in England who spent time in Italy growing up. Her multicultural upbringing is demonstrated through her impact in the fashion industry.

Campbell has been an icon for modeling and fashion for many up-and-coming designers and models since the 90’s fashion subculture era, along with her influence on cultural representation within these industries. 

Naomi Campbell (via Instagram)

Campbell’s Upbringing and Cultural Background

Campbell is a multiracial and multicultural adult cross-cultural kid. Her upbringing allowed her to become exposed to different cultures and the fashion cultures of her youth. She was raised by her parents and her mother was a hairdresser who instilled confidence and self love for her cultures and beauty.

Growing up in South London, there are eurocentric beauty standards making up most of that culture, according to an article about Campbell in Vogue. Campbell herself was not completely immersed around many people of color or her mix of multicultural parents. However, she did do a great amount of traveling to Italy, which exposed her more to the fashion world growing up. 

Naomi Campbell (via Instagram)

Impact on the Modeling and Fashion Industry

Throughout her career, Campbell has become a supermodel icon, influencer, social justice advocate, editor and entertainer. When she was discovered, there were not many black models within the modeling industry. This allowed for the spark of diversity and representation of race and cultures in modeling and fashion.

An example of her career making her a pioneer for black models are her first Vogue covers. On her first cover, she was the first black woman to be on British and French Vogue. Secondly, on her cover of American Vogue; she was the first black model to be featured on a September issue, the one that is annually the most popular, according to Business of Fashion.

Furthermore, the fashion industry is greatly influenced by Campbell’s presence. When wearing and representing designers’ clothing, she is making the pieces relevant and noteworthy. The model also acknowledges how even though she and a handful of other black models were popular and represented, it was not enough as a whole. 

Fight for Diversity

With being one of the first black, mainstream, high-end fashion models, Naomi Campbell paved a way through the industry for black models and models of color. Campbell is an advocate for diversity and encourages identity, representation and community within the industry and within fashion. She has done this by embracing her multiracial and cultural beliefs and scouted out diverse models of different cultures for opportunities.

The concept of competition was not a concern or a mindset of hers. Campbell embraces inclusion and community within these industries. Another instance of her goal for inclusivity is when she began working with Vogue and eventually became an editor. She criticized Vogue’s constant lack of diversity and representation in its staff.

Naomi Campbell (via Instagram)

Campbell’s widespread cultural impact

Along with Campbell’s emblematic nature in the fashion industry, she also has a cultural reach in other media forms and areas. For instance, Campbell has been in a fair share of music videos, shows, and films. With her popularity, experience, and seniority in those industries, she is able to capture the attention of a wider audience and an expansive scale around the world.

Campbell’s exposure and appearances in these forms of media influenced the world and how things are represented in a more diverse lens. An example of this is when she first walked for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. This created a strong drive of representation for Black models. Furthermore, instances such as her appearing in Michael Jackson’s music videos and being on film and television solidifies her cultural impact. 

Naomi Campbell (via Instagram)
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