Iman is looking at the time she started modeling in the United States and got real about how she was treated much differently than her white peers in the industry.
The 65-year-old model spoke to Naomi Campbell on her No Filter YouTube series and revealed that it wasn’t only about pay at that time, it was also about pitting Black models against each other and makeup artists not knowing what to do with anyone not white, as well.
“My first experience [of racism] was seeing the discrepancies in pay between white models and Black models. My rate was different to white girls – it was an unspoken rule,” she recalled, before adding that she went on strike for three months as a protest.
Iman continued, “If I’m doing the same job as a Caucasian model, why am I being paid less? I thought that if I took [the lower wage] I’d be saying ‘I deserve less’.”
Later on the interview, Iman spoke about being constantly compared and turned against other Black models in the industry.
“What I witnessed in America when I arrived here in 1975 was how [the fashion industry] purposefully pitched Black models against each other,” she says. “[The attitude was] you have to dethrone one to take the place of another, but we could see lots of top white models working at the same time.”
She added, “I’m not going to play that game … because there’s space for both of us.”