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Beverly Johnson: A Trailblazer’s Journey Through Fame and Adversity




Beverly Johnson, a trailblazing Black supermodel who once shone on the front page of Vogue, has recently shared some troubling details about her modeling days back in the 70s and 80s. In a raw chat with Page Six, at 71 years young, she confessed to taking drastic actions to keep herself slim enough for the catwalk. Her crazy diet? Just a bit of cocaine, two eggs, and a scoop of rice each week. Pushed by the fashion world’s obsession with an ultra-thin look, Johnson fell into a risky drug habit, which everyone back then wrongly thought wasn’t addictive.

  • Following this diet brought on serious health problems for Johnson, like trembling spells and a shocking moment where she caught a glimpse of her protruding bones in a three-way mirror.
  • Instead of concern, fashion experts kept cheering on her slender frame, helping to fuel her harmful eating habits.

Turning Point and Sobriety

Everything changed for Johnson when her mom stepped in and showed her how her way of living was wrecking her health. That jolt of realization got Johnson to stop using drugs, and she’s stayed clean for more than 50 years. She now uses what she went through to push for better habits in the world of fashion.

Breaking Barriers and Paving the Way

Johnson’s career is marked by groundbreaking achievements, including becoming the first Black woman to appear on the cover of U.S. Vogue in 1974. This iconic moment was not just a personal victory for Johnson but a historic milestone for diversity in fashion. Her perseverance and success have opened doors for countless models of color, and she continues to be a vocal advocate for equality and representation in the industry.

  • Johnson’s recent runway appearances, including Sergio Hudson and Bibhu Mohapatra’s 2022 shows, mark a triumphant return to the spotlight.
  • Her influence and legacy are celebrated by a new generation of models, recognizing her role in paving their way.

“Beverly Johnson: In Vogue” – A One-Woman Show

In her solo show, “Beverly Johnson: In Vogue,” on an off-Broadway stage, Johnson shares the stories from her life. She worked with director Josh Ravetch to create the play, which isn’t just a walk down memory lane of her modeling days but a thorough exploration of her personal history. She tells us about her beginnings in Buffalo, New York, her climb to stardom, and the obstacles she overcame. This performance gives audiences a close and personal look into the world of a woman who paved the way for others.

  • The performance is a blend of monologues, visual projections, and music, making it an experience that engages all the senses as it takes you through Johnson’s history and the fashion world.
  • Johnson ponders big life lessons she’s learned the hard way and emphasizes the significance of perseverance in a tough business.

Personal Life and Continued Influence

Johnson’s life away from the spotlight is equally full of happenings. She surprised many by announcing her low-key wedding to money expert Brian Maillian which took place in Vegas. Through all her hurdles and the demands of the fashion world, Johnson’s strong spirit and commitment to her causes have kept her as a beloved figure.

  • She doesn’t just focus on fashion; she also uses her voice to tackle serious topics like drug addiction and eating disorders.
  • Inspiration isn’t all she provides—Johnson is also a mentor, offering wisdom to those new to modeling as well as seasoned pros.

Impact on the Fashion Industry

Beverly Johnson’s disclosures have ignited talks about changing how the fashion industry works. This world, famous for its hard-to-reach beauty ideals, is slowly waking up to the value of having variety in everything – the color of people’s skin and the shapes of their bodies. Johnson has played a crucial role in championing these shifts, aiming to make the fashion scene more welcoming and safer for upcoming model generations.

  • Her experiences warn us about the risks that come with trying too hard to meet crazy beauty ideals.
  • Thanks to Johnson’s efforts, the fashion world is steadily becoming more varied and open, which is shifting what people see as beautiful.

Legacy and Recognition

Beverly Johnson didn’t just face obstacles and enjoy wins; she set a new bar in fashion. Her landmark Vogue cover shattered racial boundaries, paving the way for models of color. These days, folks don’t just remember her for the firsts she achieved; they also respect her guts in exposing the modeling industry’s grim realities.

  • People honor Johnson through different means like tributes, documentaries, and write-ups that tell her story and how she changed fashion.
  • She stays a hero and adviser for up-and-coming models, passing down what she knows.


Celebrating over half a century in her field, Beverly Johnson’s journey shows us the grit and resolve needed to tackle challenges and smash through obstacles. Her lasting imprint on the fashion world and her work fighting for wellness and equal rights still encourage and influence people inside and outside of the industry. If you’re seeking info on eating disorders or how to get help, visit

Image Source: Christopherpeterson at English WikipediaCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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