Naomi Sims, one of the first black supermodels of the 1960s and 70s, died this weekend from cancer at the age of 61.
Born in Mississippi and raised in Pittsburgh, Sims began modeling in her teens and was the first black woman to appear on the cover of Ladies Home Journal in 1968. She was a representation of the “black is beautiful” movement during the late sixties and would say “it’s ‘in’ to use me.” Sims also appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1969.
“Naomi was the first,” the designer Halston told The New York Times in 1974. “She was the great ambassador for all black people. She broke down all the social barriers.”
Sims’ 1967 Times fashion supplement photo was featured in the Spring 2009 exhibit at the Metrolitan Museum of Art called “The Model as Muse.”
As well as achieving international success as a model, Sims studied at New York’s Fashion Institute and New York University and later launched a line of skin products and wigs for African American women.
She also penned several books including “All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman,” “How to Be a Top Model” and “All About Success for the Black Woman, and wrote an advice column for Right On! magazine.