Being a black model in the fashion industry can be tough. With the likes of Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks breaking down color barriers very early on in their careers, it can still be a mentally debilitating experience for any girl of color who wishes to excel in the world of modeling. A reason 25-year-old Chanel Iman has grown close to fellow model Jourdan Dunn whom she appeared on the cover of Teen Vogue with, in 2009. They found solace in both of their experiences while working in the industry, which eventually grew into a friendship and support system.
"Shooting with Jourdan, it was just such a powerful cover because we were both, at the time, on top of our game," Chanel recalls in an interview with Teen Vogue while hanging out in the Hamptons." And we still are, but we were really at the highest of our careers as black girls. I always like to look at magazines with girls that I could relate to, and to do a cover like that, it was a moment for both of us. When we were first starting out, Jourdan and I were both the same age, so people were always trying to make us compete against each other. But we realized as we got older, that brought us closer. Now we're the most supportive of each other — we're like sisters."
They both appeared in that super dope visual for Beyone's "Yonce", where the two shined on their own (even standing next to the flawless Queen Bey), just the two of them. Iman's experience isn't a story untold as many women of color working in the fashion industry have expressed the woes of having to go up against societal norms or looks that they "just don't fit."
"I think it was a struggle when I first started, just because it was always one black girl per show, or campaign, or whatever it was," she continues. "I couldn't stand it, because I just felt like I was being judged a lot, rather than accepted for who I was. I feel like fashion's opened up a lot with having rappers in campaigns, and more color on the runway, but of course there's room for more of it and more diversity. It's nice to be part of a culture change.