When Black Became Beautiful


For over a century mass-produced images of the worlds most beautiful women have captivated us. Movies, magazines and advertising persuade hundreds of millions to imitate the look and style of their idols and favourite celebrities.

And today, there’s a glamorous icon for everyone, whatever their colour, size, race.

But two generations ago this kaleidoscope of beauty just didn’t exist. The producers, editors, advertisers and artists who set the trends imposed a single iron standard excluding anyone with a dark face, broad nose or kinky hair. For hundreds of years the fashion and advertising industry was ruthless in its imposition of white beauty as the global ‘norm’. This 3-part, in depth, intelligent and surprisingly uplifting series is the story of how the world came to accept that beauty truly is more than skin deep.

Using archive and a plethora of new and exclusive interviews with former editors of American and British Vogue, designers, white supermodels and actresses, advertising moguls and the world’s most famous black supermodels this is old fashioned documentary film making at its best. Thoughtful, entertaining, educational and sometimes very surprising!

The list of contributers to the programmes is like a hall of fame.  It  includes, among many others, Beverley Johnson (the first black woman to make the cover of American Vogue), Eileen Ford of the Ford Model Agency, Iman, Diahann Carroll, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, The Three Degrees, Halle Berry’ Gail Buckley ,the daughter of Lena Horne and Misteeq, Grace Jones, Tyra Banks, Twiggy and course Naomi Campbell.

BBC 2 ▪ TX 2004 ▪ 3 x 60 min
APs/Producer:   Monique de Villiers & Paula Hector
Series Producer & Director: Tim Pritchard