*Many people have repeatedly sworn by the statement “Black Lives Matter” but models? Here’s what happened: One fine sunny day in September of the year 2015, when the New York Fashion Week was held, a slogan popped up out of nowhere – or so it seemed at the time.
This slogan was the highlight of the year, not because of who wore it, but because the message has such power, that women from all parts of the world came out to support it forcefully: “Black Models Matter.”
You may think this was the result of a protest taken to the streets or some sort of melodramatic occurrence, but it wasn’t. It was the simplest thing you could imagine. A model Ashley B. Chew was spotted on the streets carrying a black bag with the slogan handwritten on it in white ink, at New York Fashion Week. Needless to say, the media splash followed right after with no signs of hindrance.
The Girl Who Started It: Ashley B. Chew
As a teenage girl, Ashley B. Chew indulged in shows such as America’s Next Top Model, and decided early on that this was going to be her career choice. Although her modeling career was not steady during her days at Kent State University, she did receive great opportunities later on. Moreover, the slogan itself was sparked due to a personal experience in her life, which angered her greatly. In an interview, she stated that Ashley, being a black model, was casting for an anonymous designer along with a friend of hers.
This particular designer is known for not signing black models, which is exactly what happened with Ashley and her friend – they did not get signed. Needless to say, they were left frustrated and somewhat disheartened. She went on to say:
“So, I was walking around with my paint brushes during New York Fashion Week because I’m a nerd like that. I really didn’t know what I was going to write on my bag. It wasn’t really a deep thought, when painting “Black Models Matter” on the bag, nothing premeditated. It was just natural.”
Since then, activists from all parts of the world have come forward and supported the cause. Of course, the outrageous response from everyone is due to the fact that the fashion industry is incredibly biased, and Ashley was just one of the thousands of black girls who are turned down. Ashley B. Chew was strong enough to keep her head high, but there are so many girls who wilt. Unity among the races is overdue.