Diversity is thriving more than ever in the fashion industry. In the past, models being showcased in print and on runways have fit the same thin guidelines of beauty. Now, society is opening more up to models that don’t fit the “normal” beauty standard. It’s showing the world to accept the new standard – women and men are different, and they should be showcased for their individuality.
Models leading the front for inclusion are opening up about their struggles and embracing their differences with confidence. These women are shaping the fashion industry for the better. Their inclusion has helped people around the world accept their bodies and gain confidence in themselves. Keep an eye out for these rising models as they grace more covers and bring visibility to their own version of beauty:
The 26-year-old English model has made a splash in the modeling industry. As the face and global role model for the #AerieReal campaign, she’s helped encourage girls to embrace their bodies. She doesn’t take on the term “plus-size model” as she sees it as problematic and diminishes value to herself compared to those that aren’t labeled. Iskra has called out haters in the past to show that she’s happy and sexy in her body despite their negative comments. She’s also an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association, creating the NEDA Inspires Award that recognizes companies and individuals making a difference.
This Queens girl isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Barbie points out that even as a “thick girl,” she deals with clients that are looking for an ideal version. She’s stated that she’s received comments on set about her stretch marks and hearing how she needs to be photo-shopped. Barbie makes an effort on her social media to use her voice and show that she’s confident in her body despite what others might think. She also showcases other influences making their mark in inclusion. She has been featured alongside other body confident models in Glamour and Lane Bryant, as well as modeling for #AerieReal.
As the first open transgender model to be signed to IMG Worldwide, Hari is making her way into the mainstream modeling world. She’s walked in New York Fashion Week for Hood by Air and much more. She also starred in L’Oreal Paris’ True Match campaign in the winter. With her newfound voice, she’s fighting back transphobia since her announcement of joining the IMG roster. She speaks on important transgender issues and wants to shift focus away from labels.
This eighteen-year-old Australian model wants to change the way the world views people with disabilities. Born with down syndrome, Madeline doesn’t let obstacles and perceptions stand in her way. She has become the second model with disabilities to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week, and she has appeared in Vogue. She’s had a clothing line launched in her name, “21 Reasons Why,” which debuted during 2017 New York Fashion Week. She hopes that her presence in the fashion world will stop discrimination for those with disabilities across the world.
Rain brings their unique look into both menswear and womenswear as an androgynous model. Their first runway appearance happened with Calvin Klein when they got mistaken for a male model at the casting. They speak out on gender capitalism, expressing that gender is a social construct that people don’t have to fit into. Their photos on Instagram showcase them dressed in men’s and women’s clothing to demonstrate the differences (or no difference in some cases) of society’s perception of them based on society’s standards.
You may recognize this model from America’s Next Top Model 21st season. Even though Winnie didn’t make it to the finals, her spotlight launched her modeling career after being picked up as a brand ambassador for Desigual. Winnie was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was young, causing depigmentation in areas of her skin. However, she’s showing the world that beauty is more than skin deep. She’s used her voice to speak at TED and the Dove Self-Esteem Project about her experience with living with vitiligo. Winnie’s now worked on campaigns for Nike and has been featured in publications like Teen Vogue. She also made a cameo in Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade.
Ashley Graham has the curves and she’s not afraid to show them off. She’s the first plus-size model to land the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. She’s also been featured on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle. Ashley, represented by IMG Models, is also a body activist for women of her size, participating in campaigns like the Healthy at Every Size Movement. She wrote her own book, A New Model: What Confidence, Power, and Beauty Really Look Like. She even launched her own lingerie line designed for plus-size women. Ashley is also the judge on America’s Next Top Model following Tyra Banks. She’s a powerhouse breaking boundaries!