Model Ebonee Davis talks about racism in the fashion industry — and here’s why you should listen

Super beautiful and super talented model Ebonee Davis recently drew important parallels between her recent accomplishment as a new model for Calvin Klein’s fall campaign, and something more unexpected —police brutality.

In an open letter, Davis wrote, “As I studied the photo [in the Calvin Klein ad], my heart swelled with pride. I reveled at the image of myself — nostrils wide and angled toward the camera, lips full, hair defying gravity in all of its natural glory.”

She continued on, saying, “I could not help but to think back on how I had thought less of these features in the recent past, and why. I thought about how hard I tried to assimilate into the fashion industry, straightening my hair and constantly wearing weaves and extensions.”

By being so open and vulnerable, Davis is highlighting a very significant issue in the lives of models and in the lives of many black girls and girls of color.  Black girls are fetishized, or stereotyped, but rarely seen as individuals in mainstream media. Their beauty often isn’t recognized, or appreciated.

Dark skinned black girls are rarely portrayed as beautiful, and, as a whole, many black girls feel devalued in a culture that prioritizes whiteness. It’s hard to be a young girl in a world that values beauty and to not find yourself beautiful. A model like Davis has the ability to help broaden standards of beauty and show that black girls are beautiful, and important, too.

But Davis didn’t stop there. The iconic beauty brought issues of police brutality to her audience’s attention. “It dawned on me,” she wrote, “that the problems facing the fashion industry and the problem of police brutality are two branches of the same tree. Varying in severity, no doubt! But nonetheless stemming from the same root, systemic racism. Embedded deeply within American soil and fertilized by American policies, bearing the fruits of inequity.”

Why did Davis feel it was her place to speak out? Because, she argued, “as artists in the fashion industry, we are the embodiment of free speech. We set the tone for society through the stories we tell.”

We are so proud of Davis for using her platform to bring such important issues to light, and definitely can’t wait to see what she does next!

After all, as Davis wrote, “The time for change is now.”