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Beverly Johnson, the First African American Supermodel, Reflects on Her Beautiful Life

spinner image Former supermodel Beverly Johnson, What I Know Now
The first African American supermodel, Beverly Johnson, reflects on her beautiful life.
Fadil Berisha

When a 21-year-old Beverly Johnson graced the August 1974 cover of Vogue, she was the first African American woman to do so. Now 60, the former supermodel is a businesswoman, occasional reality TV star (Beverly's Full House aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network last year), the mother of plus-size model Anansa Sims Patterson, 34, and grandmother of two.

The Surprise of Being 60

"I don't know why I thought that at 60 you're supposedly somewhere in a rocking chair, because my energy level's like my grandkids'. Three years ago I started a beauty-products business. It's my purpose for waking up in the morning."

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The Value of Patience

"When you're in business, it's like building a house brick by brick. That was difficult for me to adjust to, because I'd lived a jet-set life. This has been a testament to patience and faith."

Cougar, Schmougar

"The intimate feelings you had when you were younger can still be had if you're interested in love. My partner, Brian Maillian, is about my age; that's unusual because I usually dated younger men. It's wonderful to have a companion at the same place in life as me."

Happiness to a Tee

"I'm a pretty serious golfer. It's the only game where you cannot think about anything else but what you're doing. There's nothing else in the world that demands that, not even sex! So it's a total escape."

A New Outlook

"It's very narcissistic to damage your body to look a certain way. But that's what I did [with anorexia and bulimia] in my late 20s. I've had a lot of therapy and been on a self-discovery journey. For me now, beauty is God, not manufactured beauty."

Home Sweet Home

"A happy home life is essential. No one can get away from stress, but Brian and I don't like to be around negative people who are always "Woe is me." Sometimes we go to YouTube and pull up the comedians. We laugh — and we go to bed laughing."

Lending a Hand

"I've been involved with awareness campaigns for years, including those for children with Down Syndrome. With the Global Down Syndrome Foundation we do a fashion show, teaching the kids how to carry themselves. It fills your heart. There's not a hair extension or a makeup artist that can make me feel the way I feel when I give back."

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