Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Remembering Naomi Sims…

Naomi Sims, beauty pioneer and the first black model to appear on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal, has died.

Naomi Sims was beautiful and a successful businesswoman.

Getting the fashion world to acknowledge that did more than fling open the door of opportunity for future Naomis and it did more than present a beautiful black woman to America.

There was a time before Sims, where the beauty ideal was actually a societal declaration that what we are was not what beauty is...and there was the time after Sims, still dominated by a beauty standard sans diversity but no longer absent a challenge to that shit.

Many will dismiss the importance of Naomi Sims as long lost history. Others will dismiss the role of fashion.

But I will always remember seeing her picture, so lovely and brown, and thinking she was beautiful…not beautiful despite her color but beautiful having embraced it. And I know that had a positive impact on how I viewed my chocolate brown self.

Naomi Sims was 61 years old.


Hypatia said...

She was absolutely stunning. I would argue that there is still plenty of racism in current beauty standards, particularly with regard to body shape and hair texture. But you're right; it's changing. The fact that I, born in 1980, have a hard time realizing that Sims might not have had a career if she had been born 10 years earlier shows that.
61 seems awfully young.

Unknown said...

She was a most beautiful human being and a trailblazer.

Reading this, reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg's one woman show, the part where she talks about being a young girl and wanting to be white and blonde..because that was the status quo of being beautiful.

Beauty knows no color boundaries.

Thanks for this Shark Fu.

The Bee said...


Love, love, love your blog! Just discovered it (where they hell have I been?). And your observations about Sims and African-American beauty are powerful. You might appreciate my post on Regina Benjamin and the claims that she's "too fat" to be surgeon general. Check it out at

Peace and Wonder!
The Bee

Clifford Bryan said...

Nice article
This Morehouse man tells it like it is.New Michelle Obama column check it out

Anonymous said...

As a caucasian girl born in 1967, I remember Naomi on the cover of my mother's Cosmo magazines. I had no idea she was a pioneer. My young eyes saw only beauty and glamour.

The Bee said...


What an uplifting and affirming statement! Thank you for that! I wish more people understood as you do that beauty comes in every possible shape, size, and color.

Peace and Wonder,
The Bee

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