THE DIVERSE MODEL

What, or who, comes to mind when you think of the word model

An incredibly tall girl; stick-thin, but somehow still has a six-pack. Am I right?

Although these thin (yet fit), incredibly tall models still hold precedence in the modelling industry, we are starting to see more girls who represent a broader, more realistic, range of women. Girls of different races and sizes are being included in runway shows and magazines so that women can see themselves represented in fashion.

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Ashley Graham (Left) and Jordyn Woods (Right). Image source: http://hollywoodlife.com/2016/09/16/ashley-graham-lingerie-nyfw-runway-cellulite-interview-video/

The fashion industry is notorious for promoting negative body images, as models are extremely fit, and sometimes even appear to be dangerously thin. The constant promotion of this thin/fit body as the ideal figure has left both girls and women inside and outside of the industry with low self-esteem. Today, the plus-sized market is booming with amazing talent, showing that beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Models like Ashley Graham and Jordyn Woods are currently the most well known plus-sized models. They not only introduce a new body type into the fashion world, but they also use their platforms to promote body positivity.

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Madeline Stuart on the NYFW runway. Image source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/madeline-stuart-ftlmoda_us_55f6db90e4b063ecbfa4d4cd

During New York Fashion Week (NYFW) 2015, Jamie Brewer became the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway. Since Jamie’s debut, Madeline Stuart, another model with Down Syndrome, has walked on the NYFW catwalk twice and has appeared in Vogue. The modelling industry opening up to those with disabilities is a progressive step that will help other young girls with disabilities see people who look like them thriving in the industry. It also shows the new inclusive age of the modelling industry, as it is including all kinds of beauty. Typically disabled people are not represented in mainstream media, and the fashion industry is beginning to put a change to that.

Nyakim Gatwech. Image source: https://www.boredpanda.com/sudanese-model-queen-of-the-dark-nyakim-gatwech/

Models of colour have been prevalent in the recent fashion industry, with women like Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, and Jourdan Dunn being household names and considered legendary models. Now, models with darker skin tones are represented as well. The modelling industry is showing the range of skin colours, and empowering women with dark skin by praising their beauty, rather than ignoring them like in the past. Models like Duckie Thot, Khoudia Diop, and Nyakim Gatwech have quickly risen to fame due to their beauty and how they empower girls with darker skin tones.

So many demographics that were previously ignored are now seen in mainstream media. Girls are able to see models who look like them, making them feel beautiful, and that they have the potential to gain model status as well. The modelling industry is quickly becoming a true representation of the general public, accounting for all types of beauty, and highlighting the beauty within us all. 

It is not all sunshine, lollipops, and complete acceptance in the modelling industry quite yet. The thin, tall white model is still the face of the modelling industry, making it evident that although other models are thriving, they still come second to the original stereotypical model.  While there is still a long way to go, we should look back and appreciate the progress that has been made in creating a diverse range of models - and anticipate the changes that are yet to come!

By: Diana DiPede

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