One woman should not have to make up for an entire industry’s shortcomings, and yet model/blogger/student Deddeh Howard has stepped up to do so, producing perfect recreations of several fashion ads with one major difference: She, a black woman, is the star of them.
Titled “Black Mirror”, Howard’s images (photographed by Raffael Dickreuter) are similar to Nathalie Croquet’s series “Spoof,” which garnered a lot of attention last year. Both feature their images beside the original advertisement to give context to the viewer, and both have taken the time to make sure that the only real change from the original is the woman modeling. But the difference between “Spoof” and “Black Mirror” is that Croquet inserts a “normal” (read: non-model) into the images, altering their ability to entice, to sell. Howard, however, is a model. When she inserts herself into the campaigns, they still look like professional fashion images, not a parody. And this is precisely what her work is drawing attention to: That she and other models are being held back because of the color of their skin.
“We are bombarded everyday with flashy advertisements, billboards, and television ads that try to inspire us to buy the products that are hitting the market,” Howard wrote in an essay she posted about the project. She went on to highlight the fact that said images very rarely feature models of color, and that, since her childhood, it has troubled her that some of the biggest brands on the planet seem to ignore an entire group of people. What’s more, she continued, is that if a brand does hire models of color, only a very small number makes the cut.