Like many Millennials, Deon Hinton’s Instagram account is filled with selfies. But unlike most of his peers, the 20-year-old model and content creator is using the platform to promote diversity and positivity. “I want to change the standards of beauty in this industry,” Hinton explains, “and pave a way for other Black boys that have dreams of modeling [or doing] the ‘impossible.’” He describes his profile as a “space where anyone can come and feel heard and loved,” combining men’s fashion with conversations about mental health and self-care. Along with the portraits of his chiseled cheekbones and icy-blond hair, he encourages others to live and love freely: For example, on National Coming Out Day, he penned an open letter to anyone closeted or confused. “Love who your heart desires,” he wrote. Continue reading to learn more about Deon.
On Growing Up:
My mother had me at the age of 14. She raised me a single mother, and worked harder than anyone to give me the best life she was capable of providing. My childhood hero would probably be my mother. She was my everything. She played both parental figures, and sacrificed so much for me in the process.
On Coming Out:
I eventually got tired of running from myself, and living my life and my happiness for others. I concealed so much of myself for most of my life until I had no more strength left to fight my truth. I must say, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever been faced to make.
On Finding Himself:
I hated who I was for most of my life. My family struggled severely financially most times. I felt that determined my worth. I also looked different than most kids that I was in school with, often the only Black child in most of my classes. Then the bullying aspect of things. Essentially, I hit a low so low that I questioned my existence, and it was at that moment that I realized that I would never be in this place again. I began to search for my happiness, for my weaknesses, for my strengths, for me.
Love surrounds us each and every day. Love is contagious, and if allowed to pour itself into our hearts, can truly change our worlds.
On His Personal Style & Where He Shops:
My style is very minimal, however, generally with a hint of flare at times. I thrift almost all of my wardrobe.
On Becoming a Model:
While living in a small town in Arkansas, there wasn't a lot of room for creative growth. In this, I found my love for photography. I loved the expression that I was given through a lens. And then began to fall in love with being in front of the camera, as I learned the opportunities that I had to show emotion through different silhouettes, expressions and tones conveyed through modeling. There's so much to be pulled from modeling to me. There’s so much beauty to be captured in front of a lens, if one allows it.
On Diversity in the Industry:
I feel there is a huge lack of diversity and inclusiveness in the industry, and that is why I push as hard as I do. Growing up, I never saw a Black boy in the light that I currently am in, and to me, that is a problem. I want to change the standards of beauty in this industry and somehow pave a way for other Black boys that have dreams of modeling –– and not even just modeling per say, but also feeling confident to do the “impossible.”
What He’s Most Proud Of:
I’m most proud of how far I’ve come. Being a queer, Black millennial in this world, I was projected to fail. I won’t. I’ve come so far in my mental health journey, in discovering myself, and so many other aspects that I couldn’t be prouder of myself for. I’m constantly learning, but I’m constantly moving forwards, no matter what that may look like.
What Brings Him Joy:
Seeing the joy of others.
The Album He Could Listen to Forever:
Blonde by Frank Ocean, hands down.
His Best Piece of Advice:
My best piece of advice, gosh, that’s a hard one. One that first comes to mind is understanding that things happen for you rather than to you. Everything that you experience is designed to teach you something and plant more growth within you.
His Dream for the Future:
My dreams are to continue to impact and inspire. I want to pave a way for other boys that look like me, and more importantly I want to be that person I needed when I was growing up, to someone else, that may just need someone.