• adidas + UO: Ebonee Davis

    The future is now. For our new + exclusive adidas campaign, we teamed up with 19 up-and-coming creative minds that our shaping our cultural landscape. Scroll on to go behind the scenes of our Fall 2016 campaign and meet the creatives who are working to #createourfuture. 

    As one of the fastest rising names in fashion, 23-year-old model, writer, and activist Ebonee Davis is using her newly found success to champion self acceptance and to challenge outdated notions of beauty. She made waves this past July when she penned an open letter for Harpers Bazaar about fashion’s role in fighting systemic racism. We sat down with Ebonee to chat about the evolution of her career and what she sees for the future of fashion. 
    Photos by Petra Collins

    Photo by Petra Collins

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? 
    I was born in Seattle, Washington, and I was raised between Portland and Seattle. I moved to new York about four years ago to model full-time, so I’ve been living in Brooklyn for the past four years. 

    Who do you envision as your audience when you’re working? 
    I envision a lot of young, black girls like myself. People who are able to see themselves in me and find themselves beautiful and attractive with their brown skin and their natural features and natural hair. 

    Did you always want to be a model? 
    Kind of. I used to watch America’s Next Top Model when I was growing up. When I was in middle school I was super obsessed with it and I sort of always had this idea that modeling would be a great career to go into, but sort of put it to the side when I got accepted to college. I went to college for a year, but I was so passionate about modeling. I think my passion outweighed my desire to go to school, so I moved to New York to model. 

    Were there any models or other figures that inspired you along the way? 
    Absolutely. Jordan Dunn, Chanel Iman, Arlenis Sosa, Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, of course. A lot of beautiful, brown women who I saw myself in when I was young, and who I felt were just the most gorgeous women in the world.

    Photo by Petra Collins

    Your whole job is to help create beautiful images. What makes an image powerful to you? 
    A powerful image has a meaning, a statement behind it. So often content is put into the world that's completely meaningless or just not helpful or informative to anybody, and I don't think that's really necessary when there are so many things that can be touched upon, even in a subtle way. So many messages can be said. I think we, as models, have a responsibility to put content out there that's helpful because people are looking at us, and waiting for us to say something and make statements.

    Do you feel like you have a responsibility in that regard? 
    I absolutely feel like I have a responsibility. I have this platform now and that platform provides me with influence. I think people have a lack of understanding about what influence means. I think you really have to realize that people are watching you and it has a ripple effect. If I decide to wear my hair a certain way, or decide to wear a certain thing, subconsciously other people are going to pick up on that. Anything that you put out, whether you know it or not, is going to be picked up on. I think we have a responsibility to care about the things that we're putting out.

    Photo by Petra Collins

    With that in mind, where do you see fashion headed? Or where would you like to see fashion headed? Are those two things different? 
    I think they have been different in the past. I'd say there's been a dismissal of responsibility by the fashion industry as a legitimate media source and a lack of responsibility when it comes to handling social issues, I'm not sure why. I think we're totally responsible. I think we totally have a responsibility because we're putting imagery out into the world, and with that imagery we're putting written content, so I think we need to put out that type of imagery and that much imagery. You set the tone for society. People are looking at these top models and looking at these images, and seeing themselves or not seeing themselves, or seeing themselves portrayed in a good way or seeing themselves falsely portrayed or portrayed negatively or portrayed stereotypically

    If you had the opportunity to talk to every person in the world, what would you say? 
    This is powerful. I’m like, the president, jeeze. I don’t want to make some blanket statement about loving each other, even though that’s how I feel. How many times can we say it? I feel like it has to be more specific than that. Like, “We're human, we think the same things, we feel the same emotions. I felt lost, you felt lost. I felt loved, you felt loved. I felt confusion, I felt embarrassment, I felt happiness, I felt joy, I felt sadness. We've all felt these things, and that's our common connection.” I think when you tap into that, people's sense of “We're so different” and the things that we don't have in common, those fade away. The commonalities seem much larger because emotion and humanity are much larger than these other things that we put in front of us to separate ourselves, like gender or race, body type, and social status. 

    Photo by Petra Collins

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