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In step with a model: the late Barbara Cheeseborough

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Do you know who Barbara Cheeseborough is?

Barbara Cheeseborough is the model icon powerhouse that is gaining more posthumous publicity than she ever has since becoming the first cover model of Essence magazine, an editorial focused on providing African American women with news, entertainment and motivation.

She is a daughter, sister, wife and mother…

Barbara Cheeseborough was a native of Philadelphia.

Born to Odis and Rosalie Bowman as Barbara Bowman, she was one of seven of the Bowman children; having three brothers (Odell, Leroy and Jerry Bowman) and three sisters (Lorraine Bowman Truitt (deceased), Audrey Bowman Cerdan and Dionne Bowman).

She became Barbara Cheeseborough, when she married William Edward Cheeseborough, a fashion photographer, on August 13, 1966.

The Cheeseboroughs were married for 47 years. They had one daughter, Sia Suon Cheeseborough Bey.

It is said, by many, that her husband was very instrumental in guiding her and her career.

"Well, I tried New York and it wasn't easy. No one wanted a new girl, but I kept trying and began to get booked more and more."

~Barbara Cheeseborough speaks of her New York modeling experience.

(Check out the video to learn more of a model's perspective by supermodel, Naomi Campbell.)

She was an international model icon…

Barbara Cheeseborough fought to gain footing in New York. Finding it not such an easy egg to crack, the Cheeseboroughs decided to take their talent abroad to Paris.

In short order, her modeling career skyrocketed, including Cheeseborough being signed with the Ford Modeling Agency (also known as Ford Models, founded by Gerard and Eileen Ford) – to whom she remained faithful signed to throughout her entire modeling career.

She has logged editorial work with some of the most well known magazines, such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan. She walked runway for designers Givenchy, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein.

To most, her biggest claim to fame is that she was the first model to grace the Essence magazine, in May 1970.

Cheeseborough made strides in the fashion industry well into her 40s, when she retired in the California area.

Barbara Cheeseborough passed away at the age of 67…

On October 24, 2013, Barbara Cheeseborough died at her home in Pomona, California. She fought her way into the modeling industry, onto the covers of editorials and garments of some of the most prestigious fashion designers. But on October 24, 2013, Barbara Cheeseborough lost her battle with colon cancer.

Amazingly, this examiner was unable to find any electronic copies of Cheeseborough's editorial work (with the exception of the Essence cover included in this article), not even a Wikipedia page.

Barbara Cheeseborough will always be remembered as the model icon who paved the way for African American models to grace the cover of editorials … a woman of grace and beauty … a true testament to strength and perseverance...and silent success.

RIP, Barbara Cheeseborough.



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