3. But Don’t Call Her a Survivor
“It’s adaptation,” she said. “Back in the day, I would say: ‘Why am I doing this if I’m not getting treated the same as my counterparts? Why am I not earning the same money?’ Luckily, I had wonderful people like Bethann that I would call, and she would explain to me why it would be beneficial to go forward and do it and we’ll see the results in the long run.”
4. Maybe Say Pragmatist Instead
“If I thought things were unjust, I had to say something,” said Ms. Campbell, whose record on the subject is somewhat mixed. True, she was a founder of the Black Girls Coalition, a group organized to address race-based inequities in fashion. It is also true that she once tried to squelch the career of a newcomer named Tyra Banks.
“This is to do with me I am talking about, my career,” she said. “The point is to try to make the best of the situation you’re dealing with. I don’t look at it as surviving. I look at it as life.”
5. She Has Depended on the Kindness of Strangers
“I am blessed with the people I’ve had in my life, the influences of their wonderful great minds and spirits and beings,” said a woman whose Rolodex — if people still kept such things — would be the size of a tire on a 16-wheeler.
“I think of Azzedine Alaïa and Nelson Mandela. I got to meet them, live with them, know them, be around them, consider them family. You sometimes don’t realize when people are here that you could never think of the planet without them. Then, when they go, suddenly the panic sets in: What do I do? Who do I run to?”
6. She Found Spirituality, But Only After the Drugs
“What I found is that this strength comes,” Ms. Campbell said. “All the connections, everything you ever had with them, comes to you in another form. They’re still here and pushing you. When Papa passed away, it was such a shock.” Mr. Alaïa, the Tunisian couturier who effectively parented Ms. Campbell throughout her career, died in 2017 at 82. “I was really thrown,” she said.