Fair skin’s always preferred: Deddeh Howard, model behind Black Mirror project

Model Deddeh Howard has replicated images from popular brand shoots to make a point about racial discrimination in the modelling world. The 27-year-old gets talking to Hindustan Times about her project, Black Mirror.

fashion and trends Updated: Dec 13, 2016 08:09 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Deddeh Howard,Fashion,United States
Model Deddeh Howard has replicated images from some of the most popular brand shoots in the world.(Instagram/Deddeh Howard)

Recognise her? Yes, she’s the model who dared to challenge the modelling industry. Deddeh Howard recently set the internet abuzz with her powerful pictures as part of her Black Mirror project. She replicated images from popular brand shoots to make a point about racial discrimination, and lack of diversity when it comes to models worldwide.

“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor but people would tell me that I can be a model,” says the 27-year-old medical student and fashion blogger in the United States. “I was born in Liberia and raised mostly in West Africa. When I came to the US, I auditioned for a show and walked out with many awards. I thought I’ll get big agencies to work for. But that’s where I faced discrimination.” She was told: “We already have people who look like you.”

#blackmirror fashion diversity project #chanel @secretofdd

A photo posted by Raffael Dickreuter (@raffaelphoto_com) on

That’s what ticked Howard off. “Why are just one or two black girls sufficient to represent the entire race when there are hundreds of white models?” She and her boyfriend, photographer Raffael Dickreuter, took three months recreating images from popular brand shoots for her project, Black Mirror. The campaigns included those by Dolce & Gabbana, Victoria’s Secret, Chanel, Guess, Calvin Klein and David Yurman. She recently posted her pictures on social media, and the world took notice.

It was her boyfriend’s idea. “Why not show it to the world that you can do anything that a white girl can,” Dickreuter had told her. He says he was sure Howard could do this. “I knew she’d have to go against some of the world’s biggest names. But I also knew that when people see her pictures, they will admit that she is one of the few girls who can do it. Not everybody can.”

“It’s not just America but everywhere that fair skin is always the first choice. I know that even in India, fair skin is a fad. But, we need to stop discriminating. We need to step up and change things. It’s 2017, and we need to change, at least for the next generation,” says Howard. “When we did the shoot we didn’t know that it’d become a campaign. Now, we’re thinking of doing a shoot with diverse women. Because discrimination needs to be talked about and not burried,” she adds.

First Published: Dec 13, 2016 07:52 IST