Morals of this story:
- Representation in media is so important
- Older does not mean wiser
As a young girl I wanted to be an actress. I watched way too much TV dreamed of being in Lizzie McGuire, That’s so Raven, Tracy Beaker but as I got older I stopped dreaming. I didn’t think that being an actress was ever an option for me because the scarceness of black girls on television, especially on British television, made me think it wasn’t my place. Other than That’s so Raven’s Raven Symone I didn’t know a single other black female lead.
My mum used to order the Next Catalogue and I was so excited every time it came! I would flick through, not looking at the kids section, but looking at the beautiful women modelling the clothes in the adults section. They had beautiful smiles, glossy hair and looked so happy. They had so many different types of woman. At the time I thought they were random lifestyle models but they were actually big established models like Joan Smalls and Alessandra Ambrosio. I admired them so much, gave them names and would cut them out and make collages – my mum was not happy!
My absolute favourite model in catalogues was Noemie Lenoir. I didn’t know who she was or her real name but she was my absolute idol. One of my older cousins saw me making one of my collages one and told me who she was and that she was a well-known model who was Congolese, just like us. That was the moment when I knew I wanted to be a model. I wanted to be just like Noemie Lenoir, and if she could do it then so could I! Seeing myself in her gave me the motivation to want to be a model.
…btw I actually googled her just before writing this post and now know that my cousin was (and probably still is) such liar because Noemie isn’t even Congolese!!!