Naomi Ruth Sims (March 30, 1948 – August 1, 2009) was an American model, businesswoman and author, She was the first African-American model to appear on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal, and widely credited as being the first African-American supermodel.
She became one of the first successful black models while still in her teens, and achieved worldwide recognition from the late 1960s into the early 1970s, appearing on the covers of prestigious fashion and popular magazines. The New York Times wrote that (her) “appearance as the first black model on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal in November 1968 was a consummate moment of the Black is Beautiful movement”. She also appeared on the cover of the October 17, 1969 issue of Life magazine. This was the first African-American model on the cover of the magazine. The images from the 1967 New York Times fashion magazine cover and the 1969 Life magazine cover were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in an exhibition entitled The Model as Muse.
By 1972, Hollywood took an interest in her as a potential actress and offered her the title role in the movie Cleopatra Jones, but when Sims read the script, she was appalled by the racist portrayal of blacks in the movie and turned it down. Sims ultimately decided to go into the beauty business for herself. Sims retired from modeling in 1973 to start her own business which created a successful wig collection fashioned after the texture of straightened black hair. It eventually expanded “into a multimillion-dollar beauty empire and at least five books on modeling and beauty.”
She authored several books on modeling, health, and beauty, including All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman, How to Be a Top Model and All About Success for the Black Woman, as well as an advice column for teenage girls in Right On! magazine.