On a day when the Senate confirmed the first Hispanic justice in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, as mentioned earlier, I also found out that Naomi Sims had very recently died of breast cancer.
If you don’t know exactly who I’m talking about, you need to keep reading.
Naomi Ruth Sims, who died in Newark, N.J., on Saturday at the age of 61, was widely considered to be the “first black supermodel.” Her love for fashion was first made obvious by her decision to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. During this time, she began to make a name for herself as she appeared in numerous popular magazines nationwide. Her groundbreaking appearance on the cover of the November 1968 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal was also seen as a crucial moment in the Black Is Beautiful movement.
Sims would go on to appear on the covers of many other magazines, such as Life, Cosmopolitan, and Essence. Her name even became so famous that she was approached by Hollywood to appear in the 1973 movie Cleopatra Jones, as the title character. She turned down the part, however, due to what she felt was a racist portrayal of blacks by the film.
Because of Sims, numerous African American fashion models, such as Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, have had the ability to gain mainstream popularity. Although we still have a long way to go in this field, we must give Naomi Sims credit for opening the door for us.