I can remember when I first heard the news that Iman was in a car accident and her face had been smashed. I was about 13 years old and it hit me like I had been in that car. It is hard to describe what Iman or Beverly Johnson meant to me and other black women in the ’70’s. Theirs were the only brown faces that had graced the covers and centerfolds of (white) fashion magazines like Vogue and Bazaar long before Naomi, They were the pioneers. Because of them, all of the sudden as a brown girl I could begin to consider myself beautiful, even glamorous. Iman with her long sleek neck and oval head, her completely balanced features, and her perfect nutmeg complexion, where the epitome of regality – black or white. However it was her pure African roots that I and so many other African American women could take vicarious pride in. Iman truly made Black Beautiful. When the news broke of her potentially career ending car accident, hearts and hopes were smashed as well. While we prayed for her to rise like a phoenix, she was having a a revelatory life altering discovery about her looks and her life…
As she lay in a hospital bed, the supermodel was hit with the truth about beauty.
On a Friday night in 1983, I was in a taxi in New York riding home from dinner with friends. A drunk driver ran a red light and hit the cab, and I was thrown toward the glass partition. I tried to duck, but my face hit the glass, and the impact fractured my cheekbone, my eye socket, my collarbone and several ribs. For quite some time before that night, I’d felt that my life was going to take a very sharp turn—and not for the better.