Naomi Sims' Story And How She Made History

Naomi Sims’ Story And How She Was The First Black Model To Be On Ladies’ Home Journal

Naomi Sims established herself as a trailblazing model in the late 1960s, shattering racial barriers including a historic 1968 Ladies’ Home Journal cover. With striking looks and relentless perseverance, Sims’ breakthroughs paved the way for Black women in fashion for decades to come.

Overcoming Racial Barriers in Modeling’s Golden Era

Though modeling agencies initially rejected the Mississippi native for being “too dark,” Sims circumvented gatekeepers by approaching photographers directly. Her 1967 Times fashion magazine cover sparked attention, leading model agent Wilhelmina Cooper to sign her.

The following year, Sims achieved a landmark achievement – becoming the first Black model featured on the cover of a mainstream women’s magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal.

Claiming Space as Beauty Ideals Expanded

Sims appeared globally in top designer fashion shows and ads through the early 1970s. With her rise alongside peers like Pat Cleveland, ideals of beauty expanded beyond the white standard of previous decades.

Vogue named Sims “Model of the Year” in 1968. By showing dark skin gracing the pages of elitist publications, Sims embodied the growing “Black is Beautiful” movement for equality and empowerment.

Multi-Hyphenate Pioneer Across Industries

After retiring from modeling in 1973, Naomi Sims demonstrated innovator spirit once more by founding a wig and beauty company serving the unique needs of Black women. Ever the author and advicator, she also penned popular beauty and empowerment books and columns.

Upon passing from cancer in 2009, the New York Times summarized Sims as “the great ambassador for all black people” through her intertwined legacies across fashion and business realms. She dissolved doors for opportunity – just as she’d resolutely done for herself from the earliest agency rejections of the 1960s.