When model and medical student Deddeh Howard was growing up, she always wondered why big fashion brands rarely used black models in their advertisements. And if they did, the group was small and often included the same people. “In a time,” Howard writes on her website, “where black people too often are in the media for being underrepresented at important events such as the Oscars or make headlines for being targeted by the police I felt it was time to do something positive and inspiring about my race. For too long the negativity seemed to take over in the public eye.”
Howard sought to show just how much these companies are missing out by not featuring more women of color. She collaborated with photographer and boyfriend Raffael Dickreuter to reshoot iconic fashion campaigns that featured white models. The resulting series is called Black Mirror, and it features a side-by-side comparison of the original images with Howard’s portraits. “I thought it was perfect because we are mirroring two images,” she told BuzzFeed. “When you [black women] look in the mirror you question: ‘This could be me, why is this not me?’ ”
The project, which took about three months to pull off, was inspired by Howard’s own struggles with discrimination.
“Agencies would often tell me, ‘We like your look but there’s a black girl already,’ ” she recalled. “It shouldn’t be limited to just one black girl; there can be more than one!”
Through Black Mirror, Howard sends a clear message that models of color are just as beautiful as anyone else. Her stunning photos show that by dismissing this large population, fashion isn’t reaching its inclusive potential. “I hope to show the world that it is time for all of us being seen,” Howard explains.
“Just like a Gisele Bundchen, Kate Moss or Candice Swanepoel gets to travel the world, shoot the most amazing campaigns and live an exciting life to inspire young girls, let’s give the next generation something to believe in.”