I have to admit, I have a bit of a girl-crush on model Leomie Anderson. The stunning 5’10.5 British beauty is not only making waves in the fashion industry; she’s using her influence to speak about important issues, from the lack of diversity in the fashion industry to the dangers of sexting. And actually, as beautiful as she is, it’s the latter that has made me into a fan – I’m a huge advocate of people using their audience and influence for positive change.
I follow Leomie on Twitter and absolutely love how honest and outspoken she is. Her passion and drive is abundantly clear and to be honest, very infectious. She is so honest about working hard, wanting to work harder and build something for herself, by herself. In a world of nepotism and reality starlets, it’s like a breath of fresh air. She is all about uplifting and inspiring others as well as giving a realistic insight into the life of a model.
Towards the end of last year, Leomie hit the headlines for speaking out on Twitter about the racial discrimination she has faced in her environment. She has been typically candid about situations she has encountered such as comments during castings, unprepared makeup artists and not getting jobs because “we’re not using any Africans in our shows this season”. She called out the difference between black MUAs backstage, who are equipped to make up all skintones, and said that often white MUAs don’t have the correct foundation shades for darker skinned models. Hairstylists are equally ill-equipped and the likes of Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell have spoken out about this in the past.
Leomie also acknowledges that the situation has improved but still has a long way to go, particularly with darker skinned models, as lighter skinned models still get more work than their darker skinned contemporaries. Shadeism is still prevalent, you just need to look at the types of models of colour getting cast, whether it’s Indian, black, etc – it’s always the lighter skinned girls who conform more to Eurocentric beauty standards who end up getting the job. I totally agree that things have come a long way, and I love seeing Neelam Gill slaying, but representation of people of colour is still abysmal and these conversations are still important and need to be had.
Recently, Leomie penned an open letter urging young women to think before sending sexual images to men. Sexting is now so prolific that it has been added to the Oxford English dictionary, yet there has been very little discussion about safe parameters and potential for exploitation. She talks about the pressure young girls are under to send explicit messages and is reinforcing that it’s perfectly acceptable to say no. Again, this is an incredibly important issue to be open about and I applaud Leomie for empowering girls to say no.
Leomie followed this up by launching her own brand, LAPP, which aims to explore the issues young women face today. The first collection sought to reclaim the word ‘no’, making young girls feel like they can say no in the face of pressure. The collection uses phrases girls use to say no and aims to make girls feel confident and proud to say no, removing the stigma of saying no. As an aunt and godmother, this is such an important message and I’m so pleased that Leomie is doing all she can to help young girls.
Gosh, all this and I’ve barely mentioned Leomie’s incredible career. Discovered while on her way home from school, she kickstarted her career in 2010 walking for Loewe and Emanuel Ungaro and editorials with Dazed & Confused, anOtherand Vogue Italia the following year. Fast-forward just five years and Leomie has agency representation in the four fashion capitals plus Barcelona, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle and has worked with everyone from Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Giles, Topshop and Victoria’s Secret. An enviable career by any accounts, especially for a darker skinned model, but what I love most about Leomie is her passion for life and candid approach to social media. What a star.