Deddeh Howard is a 27-year-old model, fashion blogger, and medical student who lives in Los Angeles but is from Liberia.
Although Howard has an incredibly successful modeling career, she says she knows that there is a lack of diversity in many of the largest campaigns throughout the world.
In an attempt to create more diversity, Howard collaborated with her boyfriend Raffael Dickreuter, a photographer, to re-create some of the most famous modeling campaigns, such as Victoria’s Secret and Dolce & Gabbanna.
Howard has been accused by some of trying to minimize the significance of the models whose photos she recreated. She wants to make it clear that this is not her intention.
“It’s not going against [the models],” Howard told Cosmopolitan. “I’m not saying I’m more beautiful than them. I’m just saying if they can do it, I can do it.”
“I thought it was perfect because we are mirroring two images” Howard said. “When you [black women] look in the mirror you question: ‘This could be me, why is this not me?’”
“Agencies would often tell me, ‘We like your look but there’s a black girl already,’” she said. “It shouldn’t be limited to just one black girl; there can be more than one!”
“It’s as if the agencies are ashamed to represent diversity. It’s very painful and it made me feel insecure and bad of myself.”
The series, titled Black Mirror, took about three months to create.Howard’s goal is to send a message to black models that they deserve to be at the forefront of campaigns just as much as everyone else does.
“There are many beautiful black models and they are not represented the way they should be,” she said.
Howard says she’s blown away by the amount of support she’s revived:
“I’ll be honest, I’ve just broken down crying since yesterday. It’s been so unbelievable,” she told Cosmopolitan. “Girls are sending me emails about them being rejected by agencies. Asian girls, black girls, Hispanic girls. It’s unbelievable that people have felt the exact same way […] I’m so grateful for everybody.”