Beverly Johnson is widely considered the world’s original black supermodel and was the first black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue.
She is one of the stars featured in a new documentary called About Face: Supermodels Then and Now and has discussed how the industry has changed.
“You don’t eat. Really. Seriously. You starve,” she said, when asked about her days as a runway model. “That was part of the occupational hazard of modeling and so it’s really sad to see, like, regular people doing the same thing to remain thin and particularly, the young girls.”
Fellow model Carol Alt can also recall denying herself food. Looking back, she can’t believe the things she put her body through.
“When you’re crazy and you’re young and you just starve,” she told Access Hollywood. “I had no rhyme or reason, I didn’t work with a doctor, which is crazy. So, you know, I always advocate health above everything else.”
Carol revealed she was axed from a job for being too slim at one point. She was a size 4 and is astounded that these days models are more likely to be a size 2.
“The obsession with being thin is global, I think now,” Beverly added. “Where before, when we were models, we were the only ones thin-thin. And no one wanted to emulate us. Now… everybody wants to be thin and so now, we really do have to be thin.”
The first black model on the front cover of American Vogue, she has revolutioned 70s fashion. Today she is a beautiful and elegant business woman. We find her at her Villa in Palm Springs, together with her daughter Anansa Sims, who is herself a model and a symbol for girls who are bigger than a size 44
She’s been called “the super-girl next door”, and is one of the most legendary fashion models from the 1970s and 1980s. She was the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue US (1974).
A refined, harmonious beauty that reflects her own genetic mix: her father is part Blackfoot Indian and her mother is a Louisiana Creole.
What’s said about her
In addition to her supermodel status, she’s proven to be versatile, talented and savvy. Her varied career includes two singles and a record in the late 1970s, a book on beauty tips and well-being (Beverly Johnson’s Guide to a Life of Health and Beauty published in 1981), several acting roles in films and television, and the host of the reality show, She’s Got the Look. Beverly is also the creator of the Amekor brand, a line of hair products for black women. “I’ve always considered my career as a business…and turned my name into a brand.”
“Every model wants to be on the cover of Vogue, but at the time I didn’t realize what impact it would have – and continues to have – on my life.”
Causes she believes in
As a long-term active supporter of America’s black community, she is currently the spokesperson for ask4tell4, the foundation that raises awareness and money to cure uterine fibroids.
Staying active plays an important part of Beverly’s life – whether it’s golfing or long walks, she rarely skips daily exercise. Worth noting: before beginning her career as a model, she was a champion swimmer.
Married twice, she has a daughter, Anansa, curvy model. Among her exes, Chris Noth, a.k.a “Mr. Big” from Sex and the City.