"It’s something you have to do.”

By Susan Hornik
Updated Feb 22, 2020 @ 8:00 am
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In 1974, Beverly Johnson became the very first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue. That watershed moment made her a star, and paved the way for younger models of color — even if the industry didn’t change overnight.

“I think we’re making some very significant strides as far as inclusion goes,” Johnson tells InStyle. “There’s all kinds of differences out there. My daughter, for example, has had success as a plus size model,” she adds, referring to her 41-year-old daughter Anansa Sims, who is currently signed with Wilhelmina Models.

“What is still a little left out is equality and pay,” adds Johnson. “[What’s important is] having a seat at the table in the boardrooms of these huge corporations that sell products to people of color, and making them more accountable. They’ll make some silly campaign and we’ll go, ‘Whoa! Where did that come from?’ If they included more seats to the people that actually buy their products, then representation would be even greater.”

One company she’s proud to get behind is The Better Skin Co.; Johnson stars in the brand’s #FORALLPEOPLE campaign.

“When Murphy [Bishop] from The Better Skin Co. told me about the message of the campaign, which is about celebrating all walks of life, regardless of color and gender, I said, ‘count me in!’ It was not only fun, it was full of love. That’s where I want to be.”

Reflecting on the evolution of the fashion and beauty worlds, Johnson notes that “beauty has changed 180 degrees” since her early days in the industry. ”It has grown exponentially.”

“If I was starting my career right now, I could look 20-something-years-old for the rest of my life,” she said, referring to advances in skincare and technology. “It’s kind of scary. But it’s kind of great, too, no? The wine that just gets better with age. That’s the difference between now and then. Science, information. Now, we know so much more about how to care for our skin.”

The 67-year-old credits a number of factors for keeping her at least feeling like a 20-something, including her grandchildren, whom she calls the “lights of my life.” But regular visits to the dermatologist are part of the equation, too.

“You have to think of [visiting a dermatologist] like going to the dentist. You might not want to go, but you have to go. It’s something you have to do.”

Johnson says her own dermatologist, Dr. Wendy Roberts, has made the visits informative instead of a hassle by helping her to “understand the importance of generational dermatology,” or taking care of your skin in your 20, 30, 40s. “So when you’re my age, in my sizzling 60s,” adds Johnson, “you can look the way you feel!”