Monday, 5 January 2015

Swan by Naomi Campbell is a Literary Masterpiece and You Can Buy it on Ebay for Like a Pound

I love Naomi Campbell, like A LOT. She is my favourite super model and an all round inspiration so OBVIOUSLY I just finished reading her novel Swan, a Christmas present to myself, and OBVIOUSLY it is excellent in a Blood and Black Lace + The Face X Danielle Steel sort of way (an excellent equation I might add). Not only is it super pulp-y (murder! mystery! MODELS!) it also reflects Naomi's commitment to challenging colorism and anti-blackness in the fashion industry. Something I don't think she gets enough credit for, as people don't seem to understand how fucking hard it is to talk about, to advocate for, this stuff?! But yeah. It's great basically, here are some of quotes that stood out for me:

"I'm black. I'm English just like everyone else. I was born here and I've lived here all of my life."

" As you may have noticed, only one black girl has been shortlisted in this competition and I want to know why. Why is there always one if that? Why not several? Naomi Campbell was the first black model on the cover of Time and French Vogue and this is the 1990s. Veronica Webb is the first black model to endorse cosmetics for Revlon-but is she being paid the same money as white models? My guess is that nobody is pushing hard enough for the black model. There ought to be twice as many of them out there. The work's there. Why don't they give it to the black girl? Tell me that? We have a beautiful black girl here tonight but she's nothing like Iman. She's nothing like Naomi. She's nothing like Tyra Banks. They're beautiful but so is he in her own way. Look at her...."

"The other problem with Europe was the collections. Barbara had difficulty getting girls of colour booked for both seasons. Over there the mentality seemed to be that black girls were better for summer clothes. It was like, they didn't wear clothes in winter."

"For Barbara knew only to well that the girl of colour had to be twice as humble as any other girl. She had grown up knowing she was in a minority, that should would always be going into a situation as a model to please someone else and for that someone she would not necessarily be the person of choice."

"Uh-oh! though Barbara. She had seen it happen so many times: the paranoia among black girls in the same agency. The way the mentality of the outside world impinged in the girls: there's only room for one, you want to be the only fish in the pond. Irma was already jealous of Amy and they hadn't even gone out on their first go-sees. It was the media's fault. They compared girls of colour to each other all the time. Why did they have to compare Naomi with Tyra? Why couldn't they compare Linda or Tatjana to Tyra? Or Claudia with Brandi? Or Iman with Christy? It was the old slave mentality, the competition between the house Negro and the field Negro with the master shining up the one and keeping the other down. The trouble was the black girls in New York were wise to the narrow mentality of white people in power so when another black girl came on the scene, the original black girl had to feel threatened."

"I was secretly amazed at myself. Just over a year ago I had been just another girl on the Portobello Court Estate. Now here I was with the confidence to speak out for my race in an international magazine. Marcus had given me a quote from Marcus Garvey which I carried around with me at all time:

If you have no
Confidence in self you
Are twice defeated in
The race of life. With 
Confidence, you have
Won even before you
have started."

What are you bbs reading right now? How is 2k15 going for you so far? I do hope it is going well!! 

Much love



  1. omg this sounds super interesting. I'm reading the third book in the "Long Earth" series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter and it's interesting enough to keep me reading but honestly pretty blah. The first book had a lot of promise and then the second just tailed off with no story. I think it's going to be 5 books possibly but I think it should have just been one. I also just finished the manga Parasyte which was another quite eventless story but I found myself compelled to read to the end, and I think it picked up some steam around the ending. I'm gonna get round to reading The Hunger Games sometime soon.

    1. oooh I haven't actually read the hunger games but i loveee the movies (r.i.p Rue-sniff-sniff), the genre of dystopian YA is actually so rich and awesome. And lol it's funny with Terry Pratchett he's such a talented writer, yet I struggle to ever finish his work? I do want to reread Good Omens though :) and omg i just google imaged Parasyte and the results were so wonderfully weird and body horror-tastic i think i have to read it, eventless story or not?? I feel like we have similar taste in manga so I definitely wanna read all your recommendations ^o^ speaking of have you read donyatsu?it's about a cat with the body of a donut in a post apocalyptic world! it's pretty glorious!

  2. It always frustrated me that Naomi has this negative reputation and her behavior constantly scrutinized when people like Kate Moss basically do whatever the fuck they like and people go nuts over how "cool" and "edgy" they are, there's never any negative consequences. I never hear anything positive about Naomi and it's really gross and depressing. I didn't know she wrote a book, it sounds amazing, I'll have to look for it! I love murder stories, and I'll support anything that challenges racism.

    1. That is **so** true Faye omg, this makes me think that the construction of "coolness" and "edginess" and all that is, in itself, a white capitalist construct created to both consume, appropriate and alienate people of colour, particularly black people (I mean sooo much 'edgy' white inventions is stolen from black culture!)

      I totally agree with what you're saying about Kate, I actually wrote about whiteness and the London IT girl (looking at some of kate's lolita shoots) for a paper at csm here-

      In terms of longevity I'd definitely argue that Naomi is the better model but I'm coming to really appreciate Kate's work from the 90s, like her work with Lance Staedler (so great!), I often get grossed out by the glorification of whiteness in the fashion industry so it takes me a while to appreciate the talent these models have?? Like it's been yearsss but I'm only just starting to **get** how talented Cara is!

      But yes, do check it out! It's not a perfect book or anything, her representations of Japanese masculinity seemed pretty Orientalist and stereotypical to me, but it's a great read and I'd definitely recommend it :)