You know what's crazy? My first Calvin Klein campaign came out on the day that Alton Sterling was killed by the police. That day, I went home and wrote a letter to the fashion industry, expressing my feelings on police brutality and the duty fashion media has to help change the perception of black people. After seeing my letter, the company brought my back to shoot for them a second time. On the day of this shoot, the CFO of Calvin Klein walked up to me as I was getting my makeup done and told me her two mixed daughters read my letter and they felt so beautiful and proud. I was so moved and immediately brought to tears. Yesterday, the day Donald Trump was voted into office, my second campaign came out and I felt all the same things I did on the day Alton Sterling was killed. As a queer black woman, it is frightening but I will not succumb to fear. Despite all of the messages that tell me I should hate myself and feel insecure about who I am, all of the messages that tell me I am less of a human, all of the messages that tell me that we are not made equal, I am so proud to be EXACTLY who God created me to be. Let's keep spreading this awareness, love and positivity. ❤️
Davis, a multi-hyphenate model-writer-activist that you may recognize from Adidas Originals "We The Future" campaign, a little publication called Sports Illustrated, or those Calvin Klein ads that appeared everywhere last year, spoke candidly about her experiences as a black woman in fashion and offered suggestions for how to make the industry more inclusive.
"I figured that once I got a contract, the industry would open up for me," Davis explained. "But at every turn, I was met with resistance. I had white agents with no knowledge of black hair care run their fingers through my hair and tell me things like, 'We already have a girl with your look.' Translation: All black girls look the same."
According to Davis, being told by her agency that "we just don't know what to do with you" hit her as the most excruciatingly painful thing of all. But while that hurt, she cited the death of Alton Sterling, a black man shot by police on July 5, 2016 — the very same day her Calvin Klein campaign launched — as her personal turning point. Upon hearing the news that very day, David went home and penned an impassioned open letter to the fashion industry as a whole, telling them and the world that "it is no longer acceptable for us to revel in black culture with no regard for the struggles facing the black community ... The time for change is now."
Almost one year later, and David has not weakened in her positioned, nor does she believe that the fashion industry's obligation to do something about racial inclusivity has lessened.
"Inclusion doesn't just mean one token black model," she argued in her inspiring TED Talk. "I don't want to be hired so I can fill an HR box. I want to be hired for my unique contribution to the industry. Instead of forcing my beauty into your pre-existing box and asking me to change, expand your definition of beauty to be inclusive."
Watch her complete TED Talk below.