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Beverly Johnson calls out the lack of diversity in the fashion world

Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for BET

The legendary Beverly Johnson, the first black cover model for Vogue magazine, is calling out the fashion industry’s lack of diversity.

“There is no diversity in — the upper echelon. None!” Johnson shared with Good Morning America on Thursday. “We don’t have a seat at the table; we have no representation in the fashion world.”

“On the outside now, you’re seeing, black models and everything, and you think that we’re getting somewhere,” she went on. “But basically, in the financial world of it, in the economics of the business, we are not participating in it financially.”

Johnson’s sentiments reflected her Washington Post op-ed earlier this week, where she detailed the industry’s practice of “managing racism,” while “Year after year, companies inflict harm against black culture while actively gouging it for inspiration and taking all of the profit.”

The supermodel made history with her 1974 Vogue cover shoot. However, she recalls being “reprimanded” for requesting black photographers, makeup artists and hairstylists during photoshoots, just as Beyoncé requested photographer Tyler Mitchell for her 2018 September cover shoot.  Mitchell became the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in the magazine’s 125-year history, but there has yet to be another since.

Johnson credited Anna Wintour as someone who could push for change within fashion powerhouses, as Vogue‘s EIC and member of publisher Conde Nast’s board of directors.  Johnson invites fashion and beauty companies to adopt the “the Beverly Johnson Rule,” which pushes for two black professionals to be interviewed for executive positions.

“Forty-six years after my Vogue cover, I want to move from being an icon to an iconoclast and continue fighting the racism and exclusion that have been an ugly part of the beauty business for far too long,” Johnson writes.

By Rachel George
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