“WERE we suppose to talk more about fashion?”

Eunice Olumide looks up from her plate of green eggs. We are sitting in District, an Aussie café in Vauxhall just around the corner from the American Embassy. It is near the end of my time with the model and campaigner. We have been talking for the best part of an hour and a half now. Talking about racism and the legacy of slavery, about diversity in Scotland and the lack of it in the Scottish media. About self-image and stereotypes, too. And about the limits of feminism and acceptable role models.

As anyone who saw her appearance on Question Time last month, during which she suggested we rename streets that have been named after slave owners, it’s clear that Olumide has a hinterland.

But then, she says, so do many models. ”People don’t expect people in my industry to be that socially aware.

“I think that’s a big misconception about fashion models. I have met fashion models who are scientists and have published research papers. I’ve met models who are humanitarians. I’ve met models who are businessmen. Someone like Lily Cole is a brilliant example of somebody who wants to do more than just model.”

“More than just model” is a good summation of what Olumide does too. Now in her early thirties she wears more than one hat. When she is not modelling for Christopher Kane or Henry Holland or Harris Tweed, Olumide is raising funds for charities including Children’s Hospice Scotland, The Well Foundation and The Columbus Hospice. She also does PR for the Royal College of Art and several artists through the Olumide Gallery. Oh, and there’s the odd acting part. (Look closely and you might see her in the background during Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and World War Z).

She is also an author. Her book How To Get Into Fashion was published by Luath Press and, as you read this, she’s in Glasgow to talk about it at the Aye Write festival. And she was awarded an MBE in 2017.

In person, Olumide is all architectural cheekbones, broad Scottish accent (her speech is pleasingly littered with “dinnae” and “cannae”) and strong, provocative opinions. Last year she married former Scottish gymnast and Commonwealth gold medal winner Steve Frew in and she now divides her time between Scotland (where she lives) and London where the work is.

That accent comes as something of a surprise down here, she admits. “When I’m in England everyone’s shocked that I’m Scottish,” she says. “The perception of Scotland in England is it’s racist and cold. Unless they’re upper class and then they know Edinburgh is really beautiful and Glasgow’s good fun. But the general population thinks Scotland is a racist country.”

There was a time when maybe Olumide wouldn’t necessarily have disagreed. She grew up on a council estate in Wester Hailes, where she lived with her mum and her brother. This was in the tail end of the Irvine Welsh years when Edinburgh was blighted by heroin and HIV. “We didn’t even have a park in our area, so I did work to get one built,” she says, telescoping past and present together.

Growing up, it can’t have been easy being the only black face in the classroom, I imagine. But she doesn’t want to go back to school this Monday afternoon. “If you’re constantly reliving bad experiences you can’t move forward,” she tells me when I bring her childhood up.

That said, later Olumide talks in passing about being spat at and beaten up as a kid. The mark of that, I think, is still with her.

But the Scotland she grew up in is not the Scotland of today, she is keen to say.

“I think we’ve moved forward at a much quicker rate than England. I think that Scotland is 100 per cent progressive, apart from the media which is shocking and makes no sense.

“In Scotland we have this incredibly progressive political body of people. We have Muslims, we have Christians, Caucasians, Jews. We have so many different people from so many different backgrounds. I think we have the highest number of females in our government system.”

Actually, that’s not quite true. The Welsh Parliament has a higher proportion of women than Holyrood, but there is a larger percentage of women in the Scottish Parliament (35%) than there is at Westminster (32%), so her general point remains. Scotland is more diverse than it is sometimes given credit for. Or sometimes represented in newspapers and magazines like the one you’re reading, she says.

“You walk down the street in Scotland, and you’ll see every single race of person on the planet. But the way we present and package Scotland to the world is as if it’s a completely white country. And that’s nonsense.

“The fashion industry is recognising black models and plus-sized models. None of that is reflected in the Scottish media and that makes no sense. Because Scottish people are so cultured and so inclusive and so diverse and so happy to see diversity.”

This is a point she returns to again and again in our conversation. The idea that we in the Scottish media are not reflecting the breadth of the national experience. Where are the models of colour in Scottish fashion spreads? Where are women of colour on the covers of our magazines?

“We classify Scotland into three main ideologies kailyardism, Clydesideism and Tartanry,” she tells me at one point. “I get that on some level, in terms of selling Scotland. But we should also sell the other side of Scotland, which is extremely cosmopolitan, extremely diverse, extremely accepting of different people. Where’s that representation? We’ve got River City, we’ve got Rab C Nesbitt. Where’s the cosmopolitan, Bearsden, West End, Ashoka, Ashton Lane Scotland? Where’s that? Where’s what I see on a day-to-day basis in Glasgow walking down the street? And people want it.”

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In conversation, then, Olumide is opinionated, outspoken and at times angry. At times her ideas are icontentious. She wants us, she says, to look at slavery in the same way we look at the Holocaust.

“For some reason when we talk about this period in history it isn’t met with the same response, which is utter disgust, utter disdain. It’s not really taught, even though it’s the basis on which modern capitalism was built.”

There’s a wilful amnesia about the subject, she says. “Part of it is guilt and the other part of it is vested interests.” There are some companies, she suggests, who don’t want to be landed with a reparation bill.

Some will argue, I offer, that it’s difficult to be as engaged with historical events that happened 200 years ago, as compared to the Holocaust which is within living memory. But it’s not 200 years ago, she points out. African-Americans in the United States only got voting rights in 1965. Colonised countries only got their independence in the post-war years. “There are people alive today that were born into slavery,” she adds.

In the end, we are all formed by our own experiences. And Olumide is no different. The glimpses she gives of her childhood, even in passing, can be sobering. Her favourite place growing up in Edinburgh was the National Museum, she tells me. “That was my refuge. It was one place I could go and run about by myself and be safe.”

Olumide was 15 when she was spotted while walking down Sauchiehall Street. “I was actually scouted four times before. The first time I thought it was a joke,” she says. “I just didn’t know it was a real job. I was very much into my sports. I was a tomboy.”

Fourth time lucky then. She was scouted by model scout Scottie Brannan, she says. “He was so far ahead of his time. It was so courageous of him to scout someone like me at that time, especially when I was always wearing my Afro.

“But he just got me. He had models from places like Castlemilk. He understood how to talk to me. It was surreal. It was the first time in my life I had been told I was attractive or pretty. Up until that point I had great insecurities because, obviously, I had been through a lot of persecution and racism.

“So, for me it was brilliant. It helped to reverse a lot of the negative ideas I had about myself.”

Well, what were those negative ideas, Eunice? “I thought I was a very unattractive person. I thought I was an alien. Growing up, places like Boots and stuff they didn’t even sell my colour foundation until five or six years ago.”

This has long been a problem for models of colour. “You’d go to jobs and shoots and they’d never have the right products,” Olumide explains. And then, she adds, you get called a diva for daring to complain. “That’s the classic stereotype of black women, right? That we’re all divas.”

She tells me a story of being booked for a job for a high-end Scottish store at the age of 19. The make-up wasn’t suitable for her skin colour and the make-up artist, she says, hadn’t worked with a black model before. She ended up using eyeliner pencils to shade Olumide’s face. And it hurt. Olumide objected and she believes that she was effectively ostracised in Scotland as a result.

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That said, fashion was one of the few professions that welcomed women of colour, she says. Olumide had wanted to be a TV presenter in her teens. “I wanted to have my own TV show when I was 15 years old. That’s why I studied communications for my undergraduate degree at Glasgow Caledonian University. But I just never got any TV opportunities in Scotland.

“And when I went to castings it was always for black girl roles, stuff that I would never do; very exposed or caricatured versions of black women.

“That’s what led me into the fashion industry because it was easier to get into fashion and work in fashion than it was to get into media being a dark-skinned Scottish female.”

Why was fashion different? “There’s just more diversity in the fashion industry. They’re more accepting of difference. I would say it’s at the forefront of diversity than in the western world, other than maybe sport. But sport has always been traditionally something that people of colour, or from the African diaspora, have been framed by.” Not always in positive ways, she adds.

That said, Olumide says, she has always struggled to find work in Scotland. “In my own industry in my own country I’ve never been given any opportunities.” That’s not so unusual in fashion, she says. So many Scottish models and designers have had to go to London to get recognition. She wants that to change.

“I want to see Christopher Kane and Pam Hogg being taught at school.”

This afternoon, Olumide is dressed down in a cardy and jeans. Who is her own favourite designer anyway? “At the moment I am only wearing clothes from charity shops or made by independent designers who are about sustainability.”

In a throwaway culture sustainability is one of her industry’s challenges. “I do a thing called 30 wears,” she says. “All clothes that are synthetic you have to wear 30 times, which is great because you can wear the same outfit and not feel bad.

“This is an issue. You’ve got women going out and buying brand new outfits every single time they go out which is mad.”

She segues at this point into a wider point about feminism. “What women in the west need to understand is that they have the most access to economic political assets. I’m not judging them, but I think it’s sad that we go out and buy Birkin handbags when there are people starving to death. That’s one of the things that put me off feminism and made me think feminism was only for white Caucasian women.”

Oh, come on, Eunice. That’s a bit binary, isn’t it? You could buy Birkin handbags and be charitable at the same time. “Of course you could.” she says, “But are you?

“When black women came and died for your civil rights you wrote us out of history. You forgot we existed. What are you doing to help other women? How is your feminism inclusive? What have you done to archive and document those black women that have contribute to your equality? You can’t just blame everything on men.”

Outside the distant hum of the London traffic is picking up in volume. The temperature is dropping and Olumide still has her eggs to finish. Tomorrow she will get up at five or six in the morning and go to the gym or for a swim. Then, she’ll answer her emails before setting off for meetings or castings.

Last week, she says, she spent one day bouncing from a shoot for a fashion brand and judging portfolios for a charity trying to get homeless people into the arts to giving a talk about her book to university students and then a talk in the House of Commons about the 2011 riots. This is the shape of her life in 2019.

As for the future?

“I still have things I would like to achieve in my modelling career, particularly in Scotland. I’m in Vogue, but I want to come back and do these small things, opportunities I never had growing up. That’s why it’s so important for me to be recognised for my work at home.”

Eunice Olumide is a model, a campaigner and a Scot. She is hoping she has more chances to remind us of the latter.

Eunice Olumide is appearing at the Aye Write festival in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow this morning at 11.30am. Her book ,How To Get Into Fashion, is published by Luath Press, priced £9.99.