Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn, Sessilee Lopez, and Arlenis Sosa’s September cover of i-D broke last week. Four models of color on the cover of a September issue — the most important edition of the year — is a pretty big deal in an industry where non-white models still struggle to attain the same visibility as their white colleagues. Chanel tells the magazine:
“It usually takes an ethnic girl — I’m not saying black, I’m saying ethnic, let’s make that clear — twice as long. We’ve gotta work extra-hard to stay in the game and stay with the girls who do well but aren’t ethnic. Some girls can skip seasons, but us ethnic girls, we cannot skip a season, because that’ll kill us. Once you’re in there, you’ve got to go in hard. You’ve got to be strong. It takes time, investment, and being away from friends, family, and home. To be what you want to be, to be driven, means working twice as hard as the next person, whoever they are.”
Jourdan, now five months pregnant, might sit out a season but won't leave the fashion industry. She tells the magazine pregnancy has done wonderful things for her self-confidence. i-D reports she was barely showing at the time of the shoot, but:
“I’m starting to feel more secure in who I am now. Being from an Afro-Caribbean family, being black, skinny, isn’t really acceptable in that community; it’s all about having curves and stuff,” [Dunn] explains. “That’s why I’ve never been comfortable with my body until now, when I realize I can say this is who I am, I’m healthy, I’ve always liked to eat, and I’m now happy enough in my own skin to not give a fuck what anyone says about me any more. Growing up, being told I was skinny, felt like teasing. Everyone was always telling me about being a model, and it used to really piss me off. Then I got scouted. It might seem like I got big jobs right away, but I can still remember going on the Storm website and seeing these other girls’ amazing editorial work next to my same old test shot and Polaroids. Back then, I wondered if I would ever get a job.”
Well, she’s certainly gotten a lot of jobs since. And now a behind-the-scenes video of the i-D cover shoot. We hope you like models’ winking.
Jourdan Dunn Talks Pregnancy, the “Unnecessary Competition” Among Black Models, and Joins Sessilee, Chanel, and Arlenis in i-D [Fashionologie]
i-D’s September 2009 Article [SESSILEE: Official Site]