Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Naomi Sims

Naomi Sims arrived in new York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1966 and decided to try modeling to support herself. After most agencies turned her down, proclaiming her skin color too dark, she forged out on her own, landing a photo spread with the New York Times by contacting a photographer directly. Her appearance on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal in 1968 broke the color barrier at mainstream women's magazines, and she went on to grace the covers of Cosmopolitan, Essence and Life. She opened the runway door for others, including role model Michelle Obama and another supermodel Naomi — Naomi Campbell — to walk through. And she made it possible for brown girls everywhere to embrace their inner black beauty.

—Keli Goff

Goff is an author and a political commentator