The name may not ring a bell -- yet -- but the body will. Anansa Sims
is one of eight plus-size models who posed naked for Glamour magazine's November issue. But she's not just a pretty face, or body. Sims, a former financial accountant, has as much brains as she does beauty. Oh, and her mother is legendary model Beverly Johnson, the first woman of color to grace the cover of American Vogue in 1974. Since her appearance in Glamour, Sims' career has skyrocketed. In between meetings and shoots, she took the time to chat with BV about family, fame and fashion.
You look sexy and healthy and womanly in Glamour magazine. Was it difficult to get completely naked in a studio with all those people?
It wasn't difficult for me because I felt so confident. I'm very happy with my body, and I knew what this picture in Glamour would mean to women all over the world. If being naked was what the world needed to wake up and see that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes then I wasn't going to miss that experience for anything. How did you make yourself feel comfortable and not super self-conscious?
I think when you're happy in your own skin, you don't feel self-conscious. I've accepted every curve on my body, and I've learned to love them. If you want someone else to love you, or something about you, it must start within. The shoot definitely raises awareness about the fashion industry's obsession with thinness. As an insider, do you think the industry is getting better or worse when it comes to this issue?
I feel the industry is getting a lot better. Slowly but surely, things are changing in the right direction. I'm proud to be a part of this much-needed movement. The average woman in America is a size 14, and those women need to be acknowledged and represented.
Is it equally stressful and competitive as a plus-size model as it would be for the standard model?
Supermodels: Where Are They Now?
In light of a recent furor over the lack of black models on the runways in the U.S. and Europe, Black Voices honors the black supermodels of yesteryear. It's not a stretch to say that the following group of ladies (and one gent!) are some of the fiercest models to ever work the runway or pose for a photographer. Where are they now?
Dirck Halstead, Getty Images
Before Naomi there was Naomi Sims who entered the fashion world in 1967. With her brown skin, gorgeous face and memorable walk, Sims quickly rose the ranks, appearing on the cover of Life magazine in 1969. She's often referred to as the first black supermodel.
Yale Joel, Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images
Although she had the potential for a long career, Sims gave up modeling to start her own wig business at the age of 24. Since then, Sims has written several books about beauty, modeling and success and launched her own cosmetics line, the Naomi Sims Collection. She died of cancer at the age of 61 in 2009.
Katy Winn, Corbis
In 1986, Kimora Lee Perkins's mother enrolled her uncommonly tall 11-year-old in modeling classes to boost her self-esteem. Just two years later, the girl we now know as Kimora Lee Simmons signed an exclusive modeling contract with Chanel in Paris becoming Karl Lagerfeld's muse by the age of 13.
Evan Agostini, Getty Images
After marrying hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, Kimora got out of modeling and into the design business, taking over as head of Baby Phat. Divorced from Simmons, with whom she has two daughters, Kimora now runs Baby Phat and the KLS collection, in addition to starring in a reality show and writing books. She recently had a baby boy with Oscar-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou.
Ray Tamarra, Getty
Veronica Webb was just a 20-year-old design student when she was "discovered" on the streets of New York City in 1985. The Detroit-native soon became a fixture in magazines and on the runway, making history by becoming the first African American model to sign an exclusive cosmetics contract (Revlon).
Kevin Hatt, Corbis
Officially retired from the runway, Webb has seamlessly transitioned from fashion to the worlds of television, movies and book publishing. Most recently, Webb co-hosted the first season of Bravo's 'Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.' She lives in the Florida Keys with her husband and two daughters.
Beverly Johnson, a champion-swimmer-turned-supermodel, is said to have graced more than 500 magazine covers in her long and storied career. The most famous cover of all? Her history-making 1974 Vogue cover. She was the first black woman to grace the cover of the American version of the magazine. She has said that by the age of 23, she was making more than $100,000 a year modeling.
Dirck Halstead, Getty Images
Beverly Johnson, now a youthful fifty-something, has completely conquered the hair biz with her extremely successful wig line. She's also the co-host of TV Land's 'She's Got the Look,' a modeling competition show for women 40 and older.
Matt Sayles, AP
While there is a laundry list of supermodels who have ruled the scene since the '60s, there are only a handful of male models -- of any race -- who can actually claim "super" status. Tyson Beckford is one of them. In 1991, at the age of 21, the New York-native got his modeling break when an editor from The Source spotted the looker at a NYC park. From there, Beckford went on to be the spokesmodel for Ralph Lauren Polo. The rest is history...
Jordan Smith, Corbis
No longer a mainstay in magazines or on the runway, Tyson is staying relevant in the fashion world through his hosting gig on Bravo's 'Make Me A Supermodel.'
Dave Hogan, Getty Images
Absolutely. Just because we're fuller figured doesn't mean there's no competition. Just look at the Glamour spread...there are so many beautiful models trying to land the same job, so it is exactly the same in that aspect. We're just a little more bubbly, because we're not hungry. Now that more designers are adding plus-size lines, we can certainly get more jobs. Has being the daughter of an iconic model been a curse or a blessing for you so far?
It's been a total blessing for me. My mother is my best friend, and she has experienced so much in this industry. Her guidance and advice has helped me so much. It's because of her that I chose this career. But she also really wanted me to have the best education and to be self-sufficient, so I got my MBA, and I've worked in finance in the past. In addition to breaking barriers and building self-esteem as a plus-size model, what other projects are you working on?
I'm currently working on a line of clothes with fashionable plus-size swimsuits and jeans. I'm also writing my first book about being the child of a celebrity and making the transition between hating my body to loving every inch! What advice do you have for the women reading this blog?
My advice would be for people to realize that life is short, and today is the day to love yourself exactly the way God made you. Don't wait until your 10 or 20 pounds smaller to love yourself or treat yourself. Start right now! Remember, being plus-size doesn't mean being unhealthy or obese. The other models on the shoot and I take care of ourselves. We exercise, eat healthy and don't abuse our bodies.