Timeless beauty and model Chanel Iman is enjoying a season of abundance right now. The 32-year-old, who goes from supermodel by day to supermom by night, is expanding her tribe. Already a mother of two little girls, Cali Clay, 5, and Cassie Snow, 3, whom she had with ex-husband Sterling Shepard, Iman has a child on the way with her fiancé Davon Godchaux. Baby girl #3 is set to make an appearance in time for fall.
As she prepares to do motherhood a third time around, Iman has partnered with Aveeno Baby for their Eczema Equality 2023 platform. The skin condition is something that has impacted her children and so many others. In the U.S., 20% of Black youth are affected by the skin condition versus around 16% of white and eight percent of Hispanic kids.
With both of her daughters experiencing eczema, the end goal of her work with the brand is to raise awareness of the skin health inequities that parents of color experience when identifying and treating eczema on their children’s skin. As part of the campaign, the renowned brand plans to provide 500 women of color with an annual premium Health In Her HUE membership.
ESSENCE connected with Iman to talk about the partnership and what she learned watching her girls deal with the condition. She also opened up about preparing for her third child and finding love again.
Essence: How did you know that your daughter had eczema?
Chanel Iman: I’ve struggled with eczema on both of my daughters. Callie, my oldest daughter, grew out of it when she was about one years old, and then my youngest, Cassie, is still struggling with eczema. I honestly don’t even remember when I found out because I feel like Cassie’s had it her entire life and I’ve struggled with trying to find some information or resources or a product that helps her.
It’s taken me a long time, but I finally found everything that I need to treat her and make her feel comfortable in her own skin.
What are some steps that you took to kind of try to get to the bottom of it and figure out how to help her with it?
Since partnering with Aveeno, it’s really helped me a lot. I use Aveeno Baby on her skin and they’ve introduced me to Health in Her HUE, which is a digital platform connecting women of color to culturally sensitive healthcare providers and community support that just gives you all the information and resources you need. [I’m] consistent with using the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm, which was really a struggle for me because at night that’s when she would really have itchiness and just really feel uncomfortable and she wasn’t getting much sleep.
What are some symptoms that your daughter is experiencing?
Her skin is just really sensitive–she’s itchy. Her first word was “itchy,” which really broke my heart. Her skin just gets so bad and so chappy that sometimes it even bleeds. So she has really bad eczema and over time it’s gotten better. But it’s definitely something where I feel like it’s already hard enough to be a parent so it’s a lot to have to struggle with dealing with what to do to care for your child who has eczema.
Are there any disparities that you experienced on your journey to help your daughter get treated as a woman of color?
I think the problem with eczema [is] it looks different on every skin tone. So when parents search “baby eczema” online, the results are primarily babies with lighter skin tones, leaving parents with children who have darker skin tones, unrepresented in the photos and resources. And I think that’s where I struggled the most.
You and your baby appeared in the video for the Aveeno campaign. How did it feel to do such impactful work with your child?
I feel like, you know, it’s, it’s exciting for me to be able to work with her and spread how important it is and what I’ve struggled with and share my story. I also have sensitive skin myself that I’ve gotten just throughout my pregnancies. So just doing interviews and talking with others who have sensitive skin and have to deal with the same things that I’ve dealt with has been so cool because I’ve gathered so much information from other people.
When I was struggling with my daughter’s flare-ups, you kind of feel like you’re the only one. But hearing other people and their experiences, you’re like, it’s so huge in the Black community to have eczema and not know what to do.
On the topic of self-confidence in young girls, what are some things you’re doing to instill confidence in your daughters?
So beauty is really within and we talk about self-love all the time and just installing that in them so they feel good with who they are is like the most important thing that I’m raising them and teaching them the importance [of] in life.
In terms of self-love, if you had to give your daughters two pieces of dating advice in the future, what would you tell them?
I tell my girlfriends this. I always feel like it’s best to date a guy who likes you more than you like him because eventually, you’ll start to fall in love with who he is because of the way he treats you. So that’s always worked for me. And that’s what I’m going to teach my girls so that they are absolutely adored and appreciated.
And I’m old school when it comes to how I want to be treated. I like a man to pursue me. So that’s the type of thing that I want for my daughters as well.
Obviously you have to have chemistry between the [two] of you, but I always find I’ve fallen in love with men who I didn’t expect to fall in love with. I fell in love with my fiancé and I really didn’t expect it, but the way he was treating me, it made me feel so good inside that I’m just like, “Oh, I’m actually in love with you. Yeah. I like this.”
Congratulations! I’m happy you found love again. On that note, how are you preparing for your wedding?
One day at a time, because I am trying to focus on this baby. I’m due very soon. And, you know, I think after she’s here, then I can really start to plan something. I’m kind of just trying to get my nursery right and skincare is everything for me because I need to feel good in a wedding dress. And I need to get my body back and you know, I preach about self-love and stuff, but I also try my best to bounce back so that I can walk down the aisle and feel back to my normal self again.
I love when I see women giving love a second chance. What advice do you have for women scared to do the same?
I think it’s really important for mothers to allow time for themselves. And I think I wouldn’t look for love. Let love find you. When you carve out free time for yourself, you never know who you’ll run into. Also, be open to going out and meeting new people. It might even be just making a new friend. It doesn’t have to be so serious right away, especially when you have children. You never know who you’re going to run into and how they’ll be a part of you and your child’s life or in your life in general.
How has this pregnancy been different from your other pregnancies and what are you looking forward to the third time around?
With each pregnancy it’s been different. With my first, I was just really sick. I had a lot of morning sickness. Then my second, I had a little postpartum after. Now, my skin has just been really dry throughout my pregnancy because I feel like I didn’t really take good care of my skin with my other pregnancies, so I’m dealing with that. The thing I’m looking forward to the most is just meeting my newborn. I’m so close, but it feels like it’s so far, but I’m just anxious to meet her and just kiss her little feet and just be a mother to her as well.