Before there was Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, Alek Wek and Jessica White, even Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, there was the outspoken and stunning Pat Evans. She chopped her hair off way before anyone else was doing it as a way to protest against the fashion industry and those in it who preferred straight silky hair over everything else, and for everyday women who felt their hair was everything. She probably didn’t realize how iconic her bald head would be. We celebrate her beauty and her boldness during Black History Month as another gorgeous sista more people need to be aware of and appreciate for the doors she opened.
In 1974, the model wrote an article in Essence, which publicly called out the fashion industry’s often racist way of doing things. The piece was called The Name Of The Game Is… and in it, Evans uncovered many unfair practices: Agencies will rid themselves of Black models who are 23 and 24 years old, but continue to use 37-year-old white models.
Despite her protests, Evans had a lot of success in the ’70s, posing inside of major fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
And when she wasn’t posing in those magazines, Evans was featured on the cover of quite a few iconic Ohio Players albums, including Ecstasy, Climax, Pleasure and Pain.
In an interview with blogger Raw Girl of Raw Girl Toxic World, Evans spoke on a variety of things, including how she always (and to this day), kept her skin so flawless and why she felt the need to cut her hair off:
“Racial Barriers sometimes can be people of color not accepting you. Some people have become hair worshipers and believe it holds their entire being. I’ve known women that would not go out if their hair did not look great. My thought was ‘What if there were no hair?’ Hair is NOT your crowning glory.”
Aside from modeling, Pat Evans also worked as a makeup artist and stylist for the likes of Isaac Hayes, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and more.
She also shared her advice for models trying to make it in the industry but feeling overwhelmed: “My advice to any model: KEEP YOUR MORALS.”
Though Evans would eventually cut her hair off, she said that she did start her career with long hair. She says that even then she was still rejected and deemed not black enough: “When I first started modeling, nobody wanted me. I had long hair and they were into very dark skin and Afros at the time. They said, ‘You’re not black enough.’ They threw so much in my face.”
When Evans first started posing for Ohio Players records, she didn’t think anything of it. That was until her church freaked out about it: “I got a letter from them saying that I was an embarrassment to them. So when I found out what S&M was about, I was trying to hide those albums from everybody in my family!”
Evans says that after she did that essay on the racism in the fashion industry for Essence, her modeling career was all but over: “Nobody wanted to hire me. When truth is ugly, only a lie is beautiful. I exposed the industry for not creating enough jobs for people of color.”
Evans, has lived a very amazing life, working with the icons, walking the runways in cities all across the world, and showing off her beauty in magazines that were deemed fashion bibles. She paved the way for the women we get to see cover some of those same magazines, and in the process of having these opportunities, she was never afraid to speak about what’s right and against what’s wrong. Kudos to Ms. Evans!