Supermodel Beverly Johnson sees Disruption as Growth

As technology and social media help us move toward a more collective human culture, all of our conversations are shifting. Race, gender parity, aging, beauty ideologies, class and more are being addressed with tension, friction and expansion. While some view these movements as divisive, iconic supermodel Beverly Johnson sees disruption as growth. During the Icons Speak panel at The Getty Museum, Beverly was featured alongside Cheryl Tiegs and Patricia Velasquez to share insight on fashion, culture, legacy, media and changeability.

“We’re talking about race. We’re seeing conversations about a woman taking her place as an equal partner to a male. We would have never had this conversation without this disruption.” Beverly added, “We’re having a conversation about aging… we need this disruption to happen in order for change to come about. I don’t think it comes about [by] just thinking how it would be nice if we did this or that. We need this type of volcanic explosion to really have change.”

For an exclusive #VanichiChats, I speak with the iconic supermodel and entrepreneur about the need to #disruptaging in our society and mindset. In order to have a fully human experience in the modern world, our notions of what is possible as we age have to widen and deepen. We are forever students of the world outside as well as the world within. Beverly is embodying this by staying fluid in her spirit, continually tapping her self-knowledge, living her legacy and never resting on her achievements.

Fluidity Keeps You Moving

Beverly begins by moving in spirit. This means she is constantly absorbing, staying mutable and growing. She’s incorporated this mindset into her approach toward entrepreneurship, branding, personal development and aging. “I’m a fan of social media,” she proudly admits. She sees everything from the Kardashians to digital models as fantastic and on the pulse, perfectly suited for what they do. Instead of being intimidating by new technology and modes of storytelling, she embraces advancement.

Start Everyday Fresh

“I start off every day at ground zero and I strive to make the most out of that day.” For Beverly, this means approaching the present without resting on the past. It’s not about her illustrious magazine covers. It’s about what she is doing in the here and now to live her legacy. She’s only competing against herself.

Let Improving Yourself Be Effortless

You don’t have to force your growth. Beverly finds it as natural as how life grows in a womb. Although change is disruptive force, the other side can be fulfilling beyond imagination. It is a process of nurture and surrender to the path. “And when it comes to improving yourself, it’s effortless.” This approach seemingly reconnects to the idea of staying fluid and mutable, allowing yourself to change as you grow from all that you experience.

It’s no wonder that this renowned beauty has reflective viewpoints on disruption and personal growth. In 1974, she   made history as the 1st woman of color on the cover of American Vogue and has graced hundreds of covers since. At the time, she didn’t fully understand the fact that her image changed our culture, “It came with a huge responsibility. I didn’t know about my heritage. It took me on a deep journey that led to me being on this stage tonight.”

Beverly has been disrupting ever since. She’s also an entrepreneur innovating hair care products and the stiletto, among other things.

After our chat, she joined a panel of diverse supermodels to discuss origin stories, our narratives through fashion, inclusive media, trailblazing and exactly how much representation matters. Beverly’s change-making Vogue cover is on display at The Getty Museum Icons of Style exhibit showcasing 100 years of fashion photography from 1911-2011.

This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. Opinions expressed do not reflect the opinions of any entity other than the author’s.