Deddeh Howard is a 27-year-old model, medical student and fashion blogger raised in Liberia but living in Los Angeles.
She collaborated with her photographer boyfriend Raffael Dickreuter to re-create some of the world's biggest modelling campaigns – including ones by Dolce & Gabbana and Victoria's Secret – as "a call for more diversity" in the industry, in a series called Black Mirror. She told BuzzFeed News: "I thought it was perfect because we are mirroring two images. When you [black women] look in the mirror you question: 'This could be me, why is this not me?"
Howard said the series, which took about three months to make, was inspired by the discrimination she faced as a model: "Agencies would often tell me, 'We like your look but there's a black girl already'. It shouldn't be limited to just one black girl; there can be more than one!" She added: "It's as if they [agencies] are ashamed to represent diversity. It's very painful and it made me feel insecure and bad of myself."
With Black Mirror she wanted to send a message that models of colour, especially black models, are just as gorgeous as anyone else, and should be at the forefront of campaigns.
Howard said she finds it "unbelievable" and "bizarre" that there are hardly any models of colour featured in fashion magazines. "There are many beautiful black models and they are not represented the way they should be,” she said.
Dickreuter said they worked hard to make their photos match the real campaigns as accurately as possible.
For example, it took two months to find a similar motorcycle for the re-creation of the Guess advert featuring Gigi Hadid. He said he is "very proud" of Howard and "thrilled" they managed to pull the project off.
Howard said gathering the right clothes and accessories was "quite difficult", but definitely "worthwhile".
Despite Black Mirror only having been live for a short period of time, Howard said she was thrilled at the response. "I'm very grateful people feel the same that I do, people are telling me that I'm an inspiration to them and it feels unreal. We should keep fighting for what we believe in."
Victoria Sanusi is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Victoria Sanusi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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