“It was a struggle”: Victoria’s Secret model Chanel Iman opens up about making it in fashion as a black woman

Posted by
Harriet Hall

Supermodel, Chanel Iman, has spoken out about the difficulties she faced starting out in the fashion industry as a black model.

Speaking to Teen Vogue, the 25-year-old Victoria’s Secret model says that she faced a real “struggle”.

“I think it was a struggle when I first started, just because it was always one black girl per show, or campaign, or whatever it was,” she says.

“I couldn’t stand it, because I just felt like I was being judged a lot, rather than accepted for who I was.”

The model says that when she started out, she was pitted against Jourdan Dunn:

“When we were first starting out, Jourdan and I were both the same age, so people were always trying to make us compete against each other. But we realised as we got older, that brought us closer. Now we're the most supportive of each other — we're like sisters.”

chanel iman

The pair appeared together on the cover of Teen Vogue, and Iman recalls it being a monumental career moment, saying:

“Shooting with Jourdan, it was just such a powerful cover because we were both, at the time, on top of our game. And we still are, but we were really at the highest of our careers as black girls.”

Iman says that things have improved since then, though, but says there is still a long way to go in terms of diversity in the fashion industry, saying:

“I feel like fashion’s opened up a lot with having rappers in campaigns, and more colour on the runway, but of course there’s room for more of it, and more diversity.

“It’s nice to be part of a culture change.”

Photos: Rex Features