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"Beauty does surpass prejudice at a point, yet sometimes the effort people are making to assimilate us seems contrived."
So said Naomi Sims, a pioneer in the modeling world and the first black woman to appear on our (or any women's magazine's) cover in 1968. Sims, 61, died this week from cancer.
Around the office these past few days, we're all standing up a little taller. Naomi forced herself into the fashion world, and wasn't timid with her opinions once she got there. Remembering her makes us proud of LHJ's groundbreaking history and grateful that we have the chance to feature strong women. Naomi was a lady, and she'll be missed by these ladies.
"At LHJ we believe that you can never underestimate the power of a woman," says Sally Lee, our editor-in-chief (she gets the big bucks for always being ready with a sound bite). "It's part of our DNA. We have a history of supporting rule-breakers and policy-makers."
And Naomi was just that: a rule-breaker.
"Within the fashion industry, she changed the accepted aesthetic," says Sue Erneta, our fashion editor. "She made it not only acceptable but desirable to show your clothing on a black model."
And speaking of clothing, we're also enjoying looking back at the fashion we so proudly featured in the late '60s. In case you were wondering, Naomi is wearing a "jiffy crochet" sweater on the cover that "even a beginner could finish in eight hours." Pretty and practical, even 40 years ago.