WATCH: Model Naomi Campbell's Profile On 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'
HARPER'S BAZAAR — June 1994
SOURCE OF BEAUTY: Supermodel Naomi Campbell’s beauty straddles ethnicities and nationalities. Her parents are of Chinese and Jamaican ancestry. She combines black skin with long-haired weaves, creating a look which Ben Arogundade describes as 'transracial' in his book Black Beauty.
She's Black, With Chinese Ethnicity, Straight Hair And Full Lips: Supermodel Naomi Campbell's Transracial Beauty
NAOMI CAMPBELL'S BEAUTY belies the story of both the migration of Chinese labourers and the cross fertilised commercialism of black and white aesthetic styles. By Ben Arogundade.
SHE'S BEEN CALLED “the Black Bardot”, and the “African Marilyn”; she’s graced more covers than any other black model, and she is the most successful of them, with reported earnings of £48 million. She is Naomi Campbell — diva, beauty icon and the world’s most recognised black woman, after Oprah and Michelle Obama.
PARENTS ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY She was born in Streatham, South London, on May 22, 1970. Her mother Valerie Morris is a Jamaican ex-dancer, and her father, also Jamaican, is of part-Chinese ethnicity. Campbell’s paternal Asian grandmother’s family name was Ming. She has never met her father, who left her mother when she was 19-years-old and four months pregnant.
THE CHINESE JAMAICAN Campbell’s parents ethnicity and nationality reveal much about the history of Jamaica. Her part-Asian genealogy has its roots in the mid-nineteenth century, when Chinese migrants came to the country as indentured servants. The first ship arrived in 1854, and its passengers were contracted to work on the country’s plantations. Relationships between the Chinese labourers and local Jamaican women soon blossomed. By 1943 there were almost 6,000 citizens of Afro-Chinese heritage living on the island.
Campbell shares her part-Asian nationality and ethnicity with fellow supermodel Tyson Beckford, who was born in New York, but whose grandmother is also Chinese.
BEAUTY BIO Throughout her tenure as the world’s biggest black supermodel, Campbell has always combined black and white beauty styles, in a look I call transracial, as it crosses the aesthetics of both ethnicities. In Campbell’s case she juxtaposes straight hair and long-haired weaves with brown skin, or blonde hair with color contact lenses. (Unknown to some, her real eye color is actually brown).
While Campbell’s transracialism has been a major in her success, it has come at a price. Just as white women who desire brown risk the dangers of sun-tanning, so Campbell risks permanent hair damage from the excessive wearing of long-haired weaves and extensions, which can cause traction alopecia — a condition in which hair is pulled from its follicles by the sheer weight of the weave it supports, creating bald patches.
Nevertheless, this is a price that Campbell and, many other modern women of all ethnicities, seem prepared to pay on the road to success.
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER: Above; A young Naomi Campbell with her Jamaican mother Valerie Morris. Below; Naomi Campbell shares part of her nationality and ethnicity with fellow black model Tyson Beckford, whose grandmother is Chinese.
*NAOMI CAMPBELL FACTS ACCORDING TO GOOGLE SEARCH
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Naomi Campbell Chinese” each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Naomi Campbell eye color” each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Naomi Campbell's mother” each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Naomi Campbell hair” each month.
*All figures for “Naomi Campbell Facts According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.