Interview with Ceval Omar CR Fashion Book 18 – Ceval Omar knows no limits
Twenty-six-year-old Somali-Norwegian model Ceval Omar used to walk into a room and not see anyone like her. Omar is a black trans curve model, an intersection rarely represented by the fashion and media industries. But in 2018, she made a decent-sized breach in those barriers when she was hired at three global modeling agencies – Heartbreak in Oslo, Muse in New York and Present in London – all within ten hours of each other. .
Growing up, Omar always felt thirsty looking at the pages of glossy magazines. She loved fashion but never thought she would be a face of it, instead preferring to work behind the scenes as a model scout for Heartbreak. That all changed when a client reached out to her on Facebook and she realized that a career in front of the camera was in her cards. Over the next two years, she graced the pages of British Vogue, She Norway, and V Magazine to name a few.
Her debut as a model, however, felt less welcoming. Omar remembers Fashion’s coming to set and it quickly becomes apparent that she was hired as the label’s symbolic face for points of inclusivity. Worse yet, she was paraded in a dress that had to be open to fit her body. It wasn’t just humiliating, it was minimizing. “It takes a lot of energy away from you,” she says. “But also deprives you of your rights, you and your being.”
It would be an understatement to say that the world has changed since then. Last summer’s global calls for racial justice woke up the fashion industry, says Omar. “I think there are more people who are aware of their positions, more aware of their responsibility to recognize and validate these aspects of people who have been altered for so long,” she says.
Today, Omar favors working with black photographers, stylists and designers. “Fashion itself was never meant to stand still,” she adds. “Fashion is alive, in motion, in constant evolution. So how hard was it to imagine that other people were in fashion? I do not understand that.
As her star has risen, Omar is aware of lifting others up with her. She speaks openly on social media, celebrating and defending people of color and calling for an end to white supremacy. She sits on the board of the Norwegian Fashion Hub’s Diversity Working Group, making sure her black trans siblings are heard, and last year she was nominated for Norway’s Today’s Business Guiding Award. Star Award for Empowering Trans Youth. The recognition comes years after her own battles of trust have grown, and she realizes winning a seat at the table isn’t a trend – it’s real life. “You can post three things and you’re called an activist,” she laughs. “I prefer to use my space for critical and important things.”
Little Ceval would be proud, she told herself. What words of encouragement would she give to her young self? “Realize that the pain is today, and maybe even tomorrow, and maybe even the third day, but it’s not forever,” she said. “Let yourself live and let yourself be loved, and do not be afraid of it.”
CR FASHION BOOK Number 18 will be packed next CR MEN Issue 12 and will be available on newsstands and online from March 2, 2021. To pre-order a copy, click on here, and Register now for our newsletter for exclusive stories from new issues.
PHOTOGRAPHY FABIEN MONTIQUE
STYLIST MARIE CHEIAKH
CREATIVE ADVISOR EDOUARD RISSELET
PIERRE SAINT SEVER HAIR
MU AURORE GIBRIEN
MANICURE CAM TRAN
PIERRE PODEVYN DIRECT MOVEMENT
STYLE ASSISTANT ELISA THERRIAUD
PHOTO ASSISTANTS MARIANNE DEROUDILHE & JEREMY KONKO
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER SASHA BAR TUR