Notable Women of Color: Ophelia Devore

Ophelia Devore is a Name Every Woman Should Know

Good Day my Dear Readers!

October is almost coming to a close! Can you believe that? I want to kick things off with someone I think every woman should learn about: Ophelia Devore. Her name is not household known, but the effects of her work are everlasting. The women of color that you see today in American media would not be in their position if it was not for the work of Ms. Devore and other leading ladies like her.

Who is Ophelia Devore?

Ophelia Devore was a model, advocate, educator, entrepreneur, and pioneer for people of color in America. In the 1930s, Ms. Devore became one of the first Black models in America (Langer). As a black woman in the 1930s, Ms. Devore faced constant discrimination for her ethnicity and it was hard to break into the fashion/modeling industry. Modelling schools completely banned people of color or only allowed a certain number to enroll. When Ms. Devore first started her training at the Vogue School of Modelling in New York, she was only let in because the admissions people thought she was white (Ms. Devore was quite fair) ( Langer).  Although she faced tribulations, she did not allow negative opinions or ignorance toward her ethnicity to deter her from making a change about the way people of color were seen in the fashion world.

In the 1940s, Ms. Devore co-founded the Grace Del Marco Modelling Agency and founded the Ophelia Devore School of Self Development and Modeling (Fox). These institutions created a home for aspiring Black models and models of color. Ms. Devore’s mission was to change the way the media portrayed models of color and to give minorities opportunities to participate in the world as intellectually, well graced equals. Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Priyanka Chopra, and any other fashion/beauty influencer of color in America would not have the opportunities to appear in the media as respected, refined women if it were not for people like Ophelia Devore.

                     Credit William E. Sauro/The New York Times

What Her Work Means to Me

In my about page, I mention the reason why I write my blog. Just like Ophelia Devore, I desire to change the way the world sees people of color (particularly women) and the perspectives women of color have on themselves. Her work is inspirational to me because it literally burst open doors for us women of color in ways that would not exist if she and other individuals did not have the courage to follow their dreams. American society is still racist ( I myself have experienced my fair share of discrimination) and the fashion industry continues to struggle with hiring models of color. Even though we have made improvements, there is still a long road to travel. It is my mission to continue to push for unity and inclusion of all people within the fashion/beauty/lifestyle industries and to dispel ugly stereotypes that women of color face every day. Ms. Devore’s strength, drive, and power inspires me to stay on my path and to create the kind of reality that unifies the world in excellence.

In the comments below, let me know what you think of Ophelia Devore! Tell me who pushes you on your path to purpose!

Talk to you soon!

XoXo

 

References:

Fox, Margalit. “Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell, 92, Dies; Redefined Beauty.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Mar. 2014, www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/nyregion/ophelia-devore-mitchell-91-dies-redefined-beauty.html.

Langer, Emily. “Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell, pioneering modeling agent, dies at 92.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 16 Mar. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/national/ophelia-devore-mitchell-pioneering-modeling-agent-dies-at-92/2014/03/16/801cd924-ab89-11e3-98f6-8e3c562f9996_story.html?utm_term=.752458ca58a0.

Title Image Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ophelia_DeVore.png

 

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