“They are empowered and proud of it. Having inspiration is cool, but I want to seek my best forever. People have an obsession of asking if the model wants to be the next Gisele, but she is unique. I want to be the next Ana Flávia,” – Ana Flavia
Winning the Ford Models Contest: Supermodel of the World proves that Ana Flavia Santos is not your average 20 year old Brazillian, especially in a year in which racism is more publicly discussed in Brazil.
Obviously black as a clothing colour is de rigueur – so slimming! – But as a skin colour it has, shall we say, struggled to be accepted by the fashion mainstream.
The common tendency is to think that as long as some fashion houses have one Black model on their catwalk, then this takes away the label of being racist. However; it couldn’t be further from the truth. Racism in the modelling industry has been raising more eyebrows than it did in previous years, especially when the Black image is more accepted; some of the most sought after models are Black.
We cannot ignore the fact that in a dominant all-White catwalk industry, there are still issues Black models face; from not having makeup artists to ‘deal with their skin tone’ to only getting gigs in the exotic and urban niches. Racism in the modelling industry has left Black models underrepresented and underpaid more than their White counterparts. It is also noticed, in the industry, that the racist innuendo comes not only from clients, but also from fashion designers, editors, casting directors, and other models. However; this mindset is about to change once again because Brazil has gotten another addition to the modelling family.
The Brazilian won a four-year contract with one of the top modelling agencies, Ford Models, worth R$150,000, (Brazilian $) coming out victorious above fifteen other competitors.
“It was wonderful for the representativeness. I’m opening doors for other meninas negras (black girls). I received lots of messages telling me that I was serving as an inspiration.” – Ana Flavia.
Born in Mussurunga, Brazil, Flavia was from humble beginnings, her father was a brick layer and her mother was a general service assistant. In 2013 she completed her schooling and set her sights on a job, preferably in sales and while enrolling in sales and marketing training, she learned of the contest. This gave a hint that modeling was always in the back of her mind. Her mother always thought she was going to achieve great things and even her peers and community encouraged her to become a model.
Prior to entering the contest, she played around with the idea of modelling, taking motivation from the kind words she received and inspiration from other black females in the industry. Knowing her potential, Danilo Araújo first showcased her pic to get her noticed, and that it did. Vinny Vasconcellus later took her under his wings and the journey to becoming a top class model commenced. The evolution included training to master the strut on the catwalk as well as psychological and aesthetic work.
“It was a whole process that presented the leap for her, a crude stone, with no a notion of beauty. Then the thing flowed and she started to have more self-esteem.” – Vinny Vasconcellus
She is still in a state of shock as she could never have imagined that she would achieve such a feat, coming from not even owning a pair of heels to being the first black woman to win the prominent contest.
“When they called my name at the final, I didn’t believe it. I stepped forward and did the only thing I could do: smile. I spent the night anesthetized. It still hasn’t clicked in.” – Ana Flavia
Flavia’s victory brought attention to her colour and prowess while she held her own as a representation of Black women empowerment. movement. Actress Tais Araujo introduced her to another movement.
Tais Araujo was a victim of racism, as a result of her curly hair, and with the strength of Flavia’s beauty, she was able to gain her support. Flavia has also paraded in the Afro Fashion Day 2016.
She is adding assurance to the world and Blacks in general that; non-White modeling professionals can be just as good and successful as their White counterparts and prove—that this is not just a Whites only industry.
Black models are re-defining beauty; being triumphant and among supermodels who have won the contest before like Camila Queiroz, Isabella Fiorentino, Mariana Weickert, Adriana Lima, Evandro Soldati and Gustovo Godoy.
“She has exceeded expectations and has already had super-positive feedback on the international market. Possibly, she will travel to Europe and the United States next year to work in both commercials and fashion” – Bruno Vicente, a scouter of Ford Brazil.
By Alexandra Daley