Salem Mitchell, freckles and sunny smile.

Meet the 19-year-old model who has become the new Gen-Z trendsetter.

Like many young girls, Salem was discovered by her agency Ford Models via her Instagram account, where she had amassed a sizable following by posting photos of herself. But her social media ‘life’ wasn’t that easy at the time. Mitchell has suffered her fair share of name-calling and hostility from those who hide behind the mask of internet anonymity (such as the commenters who call her a “banana” because of her freckles). ‘I was pretty comfortable with myself just because I grew up around a lot of supportive people, in terms of who I went to school with and my family.’ said Salem. ‘My mom looks just like me. She has a face full of freckles too, so I grew up thinking this is normal. Everybody can look like this. Everybody should look like this.’


Salem’s first viral moment on social media arrived as a comeback. “I wanted to make the joke too, and I didn’t want anyone to think they were breaking me down,” she says. She did a self-effacing selfie, a pair of bananas whose speckles resembled her own positioned next to her cheek. As the photo circulated social media, photographers and fashion agencies immediately noticed her beauty and her courageous voice. Her freckles and hair may make her recognizable, but it's also the 22-year-old model's honesty and tendency to let her personality come through that have helped her land campaigns with Gap, Converse and Rihanna's industry-rattling lingerie line, Savage X Fenty.

Despite being comfortable in her own skin, Salem is aware her presence in the fashion system has been influenced by her unconventional face and an easy-street trend in the market. ‘It’s very telling that dark skin models and plus-size models are always asked to explain why they’re there, whereas traditional models or celebrity models do the glamorous shoots and leave. There’s so much performative work that takes place that it’s hard to gauge what is for the future and what is to please.’

Mitchell's self-awareness and devotion to inclusivity make her one of the most refreshing faces in the industry today.