Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

'Find something to like about yourself and hold on to that' Iman on self-esteem and beauty diversity

Iman.jpg

As she celebrates her sixtieth birthday this week, legendary supermodel Iman has spoken out about why we still have a fight on our hands when it comes to ethnic representation in the beauty industry.

"At the core of it, the beauty ideal is still the same," Iman, who reached the zenith of her modelling career in the 80s, tells The Cut. "Everyone still thinks blonde, blue eyes."

Since retiring in 1989, Iman has thrown herself into campaigning for greater diversity in the modelling industry with Bethann Hardison's Diversity Coalition

Referring to South Sudanese model Nykhor Paul, who recently hit out at make-up artists on Instagram for not being equipped with the right products to compliment her skin tone, Iman says exactly the same situation prompted her to set up her own - now globally successful - make-up line, Iman Cosmetics

"In 1975, a makeup artist asked me if I brought my own foundation," she recalls. "But now, every line from François Nars's to Iman to Bobbi Brown has a lot of skin tones.

"So, good for her [Nykho] — the laziness and audacity of those makeup artists! It’s not like you didn’t know this model was going to be there. Make-up artists already know. And why shouldn’t you have the foundation — that’s your job. It’s like hiring a painter to come paint your house and he’s forgotten your paint and has to ask for it! You should get fired, you should be fired!"

Iman

Iman at the CFDA Fashion Awards last year

The Somali-born model and actress also revealed that her career in the spotlight has not always been easy.

"I suffer from low self-esteem," she says. "I had horrible self-esteem growing up. You really have to save yourself because the critic within you will eat you up. It’s not the outside world, it’s your interior life, that critic within you that you have to silence. 

"Find something to like about yourself and hold on to that. It’s a constant battle whether you are 16 or 50. As you age, you do really find that quietness inside and that being-comfortable-in-your-skin feeling."

#IMAN60

A photo posted by IMAN (@the_real_iman) on

Iman has been married to singer David Bowie since 1992 and has two children.

Having just turned 60, she adheres to a series of therapeutic rituals to maintain a sense of wellbeing. 

"I like to get up around 5:30 or six — that’s my favourite time of day," she says. "My family is still asleep and the office is still closed, so I can start my day slowly. I first have a glass of warm water with lemon. And then I lie down and keep my mind clear for about 20 to 30 minutes. I get up and have a cup of coffee and slowly ease into it.

"My ritual is cooking. I find it therapeutic," she adds. "It comes naturally to me.

"...I started cooking when I began dating my husband. During my modeling years, I didn’t cook. We got up at 10 or 11pm and then went out, eating at 4 or 6 am before going to bed. Life is too short not to have pasta, steak, and butter. I like moderation, but I like the idea of having vegetables a few times a week. I don’t love eating meat. I really only like chicken and fish."

As for fitness, she says, "I go and do Pilates three to four times a week. It is very challenging, but I still find it boring. As I age, cardio is the most important thing. Not feeling out of breath is the thing that I miss most." 

Iman in the 1987 film No Way Out

Iman in the 1987 film No Way Out

On the topic of ageing, Iman says, "I feel pretty good. I feel really healthy, loved, blessed, and I’ve never been more comfortable being inside myself. I’ve been forced to sit still. I tell my younger friends, 'Don’t be afraid of change. That is when you really see what your destiny is'.

"...I don’t read the comments, really, but someone once commented, 'Oh my God, she looks so good for 70,'" she notes. "And I said, 'Bitch, don’t rush me! I’m 60, not 70.'"

Read the full interview on The Cut

Photos: Rex Features

Related

hero.jpg

'Beauty doesn't just come in shade pale'

hero-2.jpg

Diversity in beauty; our pledge to you

rexfeatures_4443780gg.jpg

'Why do we feel the need to taunt and judge black hair?'

OLAY_DAY410561.jpg

“To me, beauty is all about balance”

jourdan-dunn.jpg

Jourdan Dunn: "Iman is my most inspiring style icon"

1537946_1442095876112071_8006511130731520455_o.jpg

New campaign celebrates what women really look like underneath

Comments

More

This is why Alicia Keys wore make-up in her latest photo shoot

The star appears in colourful eyeshadow and sweeping eyeliner

by Amy Swales
20 Jan 2017

Iris Law is the new face of Burberry Beauty

A huge gig for the 16-year-old

by Anna Pollitt
17 Jan 2017

Why more and more women are embracing wigs

“I never have a bad hair day”

by The Stylist web team
15 Jan 2017

Claire Danes reveals how she tackles anxiety over her appearance

How to avoid falling into an "obsessive loop"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
05 Jan 2017

Caitlyn Jenner’s new MAC collection is here and it’s fabulous

Make-up for everyone.

by Moya Crockett
04 Jan 2017

British Army recruiters slammed for sexist “Military Makeup” campaign

"We want to know the girls behind the make up! We are searching for real beauty"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
03 Jan 2017

Hurrah: beauty grooming victory as Tesco cuts price of women's razors

A small victory

by Sarah Biddlecombe
03 Jan 2017

Breaking new ground: introducing 2017's innovative beauty products

Finally, some answers for beauty's biggest conundrums

by The Stylist web team
30 Dec 2016

Hair trends 2017: The cuts and colours ruling social media

New year, new hair?

by Amy Lewis
22 Dec 2016

Hairdressers are being trained to spot signs of domestic abuse

New law requires beauty workers to spot the signs

by Anna Pollitt
19 Dec 2016