One of the first successful African–American fashion models, Beverly Johnson became a celebrity because of her success in the 1970s and 1980s. The 5’9″ Johnson was the first black woman to appear on the cover of American Vogue and French Elle magazines. Over the course of her career, she was featured on more than 500 magazine covers and in numerous advertising campaigns. Johnson used her success as a model to launch a second career as an actress and to become an advocate for several social issues.
In the early 1970s, Johnson gave up her studies at Northeastern to focus on modeling full time in New York City. This phase of her modeling career began with much difficulty. She applied to the famous Ford modeling agency, but was turned down. Johnson then turned to a modeling agency that specialized in African-American models called Black Beauty. This company was also not interested in signing her. Finally, Johnson went to Glamour magazine in 1971. She walked into the office and was immediately hired for a shoot. The issue went on to set sales records. However, from the first big job, Johnson was told to lose weight. She weighed about 135 pounds at the time, and by not eating, got her weight as low as 103 pounds.
- It’s time to be proud of our black beauty | Elizabeth Pears (guardian.co.uk)