I’m late to give tribute to this icon of black beauty, and I sincerely regret that it’s taken her untimely passing to share her legacy here on Afrobella.

Naomi Sims was simply, the first. The ground breaker. As The Root put it, she was no “supermodel” —

The title “supermodel” is too limited, too modest for what Sims really managed to do. She initiated a dialogue on how our culture defines beauty—a dialogue that continues to this day. She proved that a pretty face does not mean an empty head—a fact that continues to roil our assumptions. And ultimately, she let the world know that a black face—a black woman—is someone to be reckoned with.

Black Voices did a great memorial, featuring recollections by Naomi’s peer, Beverly Johnson.


“”Naomi Sims was an incredible role model – a trailblazer who helped to define black beauty and open the doors for all of the African American models we see today — and a savvy businesswoman,” a shaken Beverly Johnson told Black Voices. “Mostly, she was a friend and someone I greatly admired. We lost a truly dynamic woman.”

We truly did.

55 Secret Street remembered her with a stunning photo by Kwaku Alston (Naomi looks amazing in his legends gallery) and with an apt quote from the original NY Times obit:

…Halston told the New York Times in 1974, “Naomi was the first. She was the great ambassador for all black people. She broke down all the social barriers.”


And finally, In Her Shoes offered a fitting tribute and a final wish:

“In addition to her hair and make up collections, Naomi Sims authored five books on health, beauty and success. It goes without saying, Naomi single-handedly pushed down doors for many of the Black super models we see today, but she had to face quite a bit of diversity during her journey. While we never want to live in less than favorable conditions, some of us are able to embrace each challenge, and accept it as a gift to face our own shortcomings. Naomi Sims was one of the chosen few who successfully used hard times to create realities that some never dreamed were possible… Thank you for blazing the trail for women everywhere who are now afforded the opportunities you fought so tirelessly for. Rest in peace and joy, Ms. Sims.”

I couldn’t have said it any better. Rest in peace to a true legend, and a timeless beauty.

Click here to check out her book, All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman.

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Q says:
August 5, 2009, 9:48 am
Naomi Sims will always be an Icon of Black Beauty. Miss you and loved you, always will ....R.I.P Naomi.
warrior11209 says:
August 5, 2009, 12:26 pm
RIP Naomi Sims - you wil be missed! I remember the first ad that I say her in - I was in awe
sandra says:
August 5, 2009, 11:14 pm
She was phenomenal. Naomi was the first to bare her infamous "forehead" thus showing her beautiful bone structure; many(not all) young black girls wore bangs because of the shame of having a large forehead; so to see this beautiful woman on Life magazine showing full face was life changing....
Soulflower says:
August 13, 2009, 3:38 pm
Thank God for this site...I had not even heard that she died...they always do this to our Black female icons...I had to endure days of coverage about that pedophile Michael Jackson and other idiots of all races and sexes...but here is someone who truly mattered and...nothing. God Bless you Ms. Sims...I loved your product line. You are not here to kick around anymore, but in the arms of God.
marapasa says:
November 1, 2009, 12:51 am
Naomi...you and your courage, style and beauty were such an inspiration for me and girlfriends ... jourdan dunn and chanel iman should thank-you with every interview they ever have
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