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Model Joan Smalls: I 'Don't Get' Lack of Diversity in Modeling

Model Joan Smalls: I 'Don't Get' Lack of Diversity in Modeling

Joan Smalls looks absolutely gorgeous on the cover of Elle magazine’s January 2014 issue, on newsstands December 17.

Here’s what the 25-year-old fashion model had to share with the mag:

On the fashion industry’s lack of diversity: “People hide behind the word aesthetic. They say, ‘Well, it’s just that designer’s aesthetic.’ But when you see 18 seasons in a row and not one single model outside a certain skin color…? There are people in the industry who are advocates, who support diversity. And there are people who do not. I don’t get it. Beauty is universal. These doors have to open.”

On starting her modeling career: “I came to New York with a dream. I came to do what I saw girls doing in campaigns, in editorials – great things, challenging things.”

On wanting to get into acting: “I want to be clear that I don’t want to act just because it’s the typical move for a model. My desire comes from a place of wanting to entertain people on a different level.”

For more from Joan, visit

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Credit: Michael Thompson/Elle
Posted to: Joan Smalls, Magazine

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  • Alaia

    She’s one of the best models out there. Glad she’s speaking up about racism.

  • Beauty Is Diverse

    She looks great

  • magazine

    Wtf is she going to say? She’s working for those modeling agencies who give her her food.

  • True

    I wish the fashion industry would promote, not just racial diversity, but physical diversity.

    I guess the days of having black models with unique features (Alek Wek, Liya Kebede and Olouchi, to name a few) are gone.

    All the black models look identical these days.

    I can’t tell Joan from Sessilee Lopez from Chanel Iman from Jordan Dunn. They all look exactly alike– caramel skin, long straight black hair and oval-shaped faces.

  • paris

    @Alaia: i agree, all skin colors exude beautiful women. joan is a stunning model, when she’s on the runway its only either her by herself, her with jourdan, or her with jourdan and chanel but everybody else is of caucasian or european descent. they have a few asians, and once in a blue moon you see a hispanic or indian descent model doing high fashion. these designers like to promote a european aesthetic and it isnt healthy at all, its very easy to put down other girls in the modeling world as well as girls and women in real life when it comes to placing value on women just cause of the fairness of color whether it be skin, hair, and eyes. variety is so much better and it never gets boring, its like why do you want to keep these ideals of beauty so restricted, it gets really bland after a while. same thing goes for hollywood when it comes to actors, it gets redundant seeing the same actors doing movies over and over again, especially when it comes to race. hollywood makes it seem like minorities are untalented in acting when that is the furthest thing from the truth.

  • Mandy

    She looks so great.

  • pika

    its sad because ive seen gorgeous ethnic models who arent promoted because they arent caucasian. and people like cara are overhyped and arent all that pretty. i find that the ethnic models dont age as quickly as well.

  • @pika: Well, that’s the agenda. To put a white face on ‘beauty’.
    That’s why media likes to put fat, unattractive, loud and obnoxious black women on TV and film and the complete opposite for white women.
    Many casting agents are in fact white women so of course they will put their own on top. And in order to be on top you need a bottom.
    It’s very simple if you think about it.

  • Nev


  • Rodriguez

    Over-rated ugly horse manly face, big nose and fake hair!!

  • Anne

    Funny she means white western world beauty should have diversity, and not only diversity but white’s should just secede all power positions to other races … She doesn’t demand India’s fashion industry diversify , they can have all Indian in fashion or Bollywood their movie industry or China fashion, movie and tv are all Chinese … You know the population about 3 billion people.. or African nations have stars, from models to movie star be all black… No people only want diversity when it’s majority white countries, ever other race can dominate their cultures…. Oh because white nations are too stupid to realize we allowing all these races to came into are countries is slowing destroying them, US less the 25 years old was over 85% now 67% and the US has only deteriorated last 2 decades, same is happening in UK, Canada , Australia, Europe.

  • Open a book

    @Anne: You do know that America isn’t a ‘white’ country, right? America doesn’t belong to whites only you moron. It was native land first and belongs to the N/A if anyone. Plus, so called African Americans can probably trace their ancestry further back in the America than you.
    Your ancestors probably came by ellis island or were poor immigrants from ireland or poland. I doubt your ancestors came with the mayflower so who are you kidding here? African Americans ancestors built this country on their backs so have some respect you cretin.

  • Open a book

    @Anne: Further more, Europeans colonized and destroyed many countries in Asia and Africa centuries ago (and still do) which is why there is so much destruction in those countries today.
    The west is pumping oil and bombing countries all over. So what is your explanation? Research cause and effect and learn a thing or two about history.

  • British Latin American

    @Open a book: The United States was not a country when the Europeans came in, so it didn’t belong to anyone! Do you know Anne’s ancestry to make your ridiculous statement. You also sound like a snob and a racist by speaking of where her ancestors may have come from, something you are criticising her as being. Plenty of people built the U.S. not just black people, stupid cretin.
    If the West can exploit those nations it is because they allow it to occur so that the elites in those countries can benefit. Open a book, dear.

  • AnneisaMoron

    @Anne: Wow, how can you possibly compare are Bollywood to Hollywood? Yes, the western world is the victim, boo hoo. God forbid they show diversity in their magazines.

    This isn’t about “white countries,” this is about the fashion industry as a whole. Almost every high fashion designer–of which, are popular around the world–use white models exclusively. What’s so bad about having a LITTLE diversity? If fashion designers and magazines included more types of people, the message of beauty would connect with more people.

    I’m not even going to touch your racist tangent about white cultures being superior to all the others. Your neurosis is astonishing.

  • wowowowow

    @British Latin American:
    LOL!!! how can you say North America as the Native Indians knew it wasn’t a country? They farmed it cultivated it and kept it clean and unpolluted. They had a government, it wasn’t like the European government but they had one. It was their country, and it was taken from them because the takers had used up their resources and instead of trying to fix their problems they instead chose to steal and kill. History is repeating, America is a Natural Oil HOG and it invades countries in the name of Military Charity to steal and conquer their natural resources. I hate people like you who justify that genocide. Britain has colonized 90% of all the worlds countries….there is something very wrong with that. That is a sign of ultimate greed and is a display of true unadulterated evil. Please don’t ever say that again.