Afro-Latina supermodel Joan Smalls has gone one step ahead of all else in supporting the anti-racism movement across the world. She pledged half her wages from the rest of the year 2020 to the Black Lives Matter organizations and initiatives, and also urged the rest of the fashion industry to do the same.
In 2011, Smalls was named the first Latina model to be the face of the famous brand Estee Lauder’s global marketing campaign. The Puerto Rico-born supermodel has also worked with top brands such as Gucci, Alexander Wang, and Tom Ford over her decade-long career. She has also consistently been ranked among the highest-paid models in the world. However, unfortunately, despite all her talent, fame and renown, Smalls has not been exempt from racism in the fashion industry.
In a video message that she posted on Instagram recently, Smalls rebuked the fashion industry, saying “I see agencies, magazines and brands posting black screens on their Instagram accounts. What does that really mean? What is the fashion industry actually going to do about it? Is this just another trend?”
“This industry that profits from our black and brown bodies, our culture for constant inspiration, our music and our images for their visuals have tip-toed around the issues. You are part of the cycle that perpetuates these conscious behaviors,” said Smalls, adding that many “who claim to be all about diversity and inclusivity jumped on a bandwagon because social media was holding you accountable for your lack of acknowledgement of us.”
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The recent and long standing acts against the black community have been saddening, frustrating and unacceptable. I feel these same emotions when I think about how my industry, the fashion world, is responding. It is time for this industry to do more than post a black square and say they’ll “Do Better!” It’s time for us to see the change starting from the ground up. Give us a seat at the table, include us, give us a chance, because we are worthy, talented and unique. There have been so many times where I’ve had to face issues against my race within this industry because I was their token black girl. The campaigns and editorials I had to share while my counterparts got to achieve that on their own. Or that my hair was an issue or that I made a show or campaign too ethnic, the list goes on and on. This industry that I love has profited from us but has never considered us equal. This. Stops. Now. It’s time for the fashion industry to stand up and show their solidarity. Time for you all to give back to these communities and cultures which you draw so much inspiration from. I do want to thank those that did see me for me and gave me a chance. Those that helped me fight my way to where I am today. Thank you, thank you for doing what you knew to be right versus what others said should be done. You will help us be the leaders of change. In saying all of this, I also pledge to donate 50% of my salary for the remainder of 2020 to Black Lives Matter organizations. I know I can’t just talk about change, I have to be a force for it. I encourage and will continue to encourage brands within this industry to do the same and give back. Let’s all be the change we want and need to see. These battles are long from over but together we’re stronger and together we can accomplish what is needed. #WeAreNotATrend #blacklivesmatter
Her initiative was applauded by her fellow models such as Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Lily Aldridge, and Karen Elson, among others.
And rightly so.
This is a wonderful move by Smalls and we hope that other models also join the fray soon!1