North Texas Daily

Modeling industry is in great need of more diversity

Modeling industry is in great need of more diversity

Modeling industry is in great need of more diversity
February 11
14:00 2022

There is a point in many youths’ lives where it is evident that there isn’t any representation of their own physical attributes in the modeling industry. Children from minority backgrounds saw models that looked like the little Barbie dolls they had to play with. They were taught to believe that tall, slender, blonde and white features were the only ones that could produce a supermodel and enable a person to walk down a runway.

Though many little girls have aspirations of being a model, the media hasn’t represented more diverse demographics until recently. Including more models of color in the industry now gives them hope that their dreams can become a reality.

When Naomi Campbell became an international icon for her signature strut, she gave hope to not only Black girls, but to girls of all backgrounds that they too could be the standard of beauty. She opened the doors to allow designers and agencies to recognize the importance of inclusivity. A grand realization occurred in the industry when it was discovered that everyone would love to see themselves on a runway. 

In more recent years, we have new models of different ethnicities, sizes and identities become more open about their experiences as a model and not having a cookie-cutter image. They have used their social outlets to publicly speak about how the modeling industry needs to change.

Plus-size models are left to deal with the issue of feeling like they need to fit the clothes rather than the clothes fit them. In an industry where oneself is essentially a product, a lot of judgment can be put on them. It’s important to recognize that every model is still a person, and that every person has feelings and emotions.

Racism is also another factor that is very evident in the fashion industry. Being a model myself, I have had my own experiences of racism. It left me crying on the phone with my mom in a bathroom in a completely different state. I asked myself why any of these designers wouldn’t want a Black model to wear their dresses.

I walked around feeling hopeless even when many designers and other models randomly called me beautiful. I was blessed to work with a designer who loved my look. I ended up shooting with the organizers of the event and my pictures were on the cover of the post that highlighted the entire week.

I cried tears of joy to see how I turned such a rough week into being showcased to over 40,000 followers. The photographer loved everything about me and told me my skin tone was beautiful. It showed me that even though I was among models who hold titles in the various divisions of pageantry, I still had a chance even when it wasn’t my area of expertise. 

We don’t only need diversity in models. It’s needed in designers, hairstylists, makeup artists and every other category that makes up the industry. What do you do when there are hairstylists who don’t know how to style the coarse texture of African American hair? Or when foundation doesn’t properly match the rich tones of darker skin? Having all backgrounds working in the field lets everyone feel their considerations are known. 

Knowing there is someone for everyone allows for the sensitivities and insecurities that are associated with being a model to feel less daunting. In the Vogue Video Series, models discuss how they have felt inclined to abide by certain concerns that may make them feel uncomfortable or insecure. 

“Every little kid should be able to see someone who looks like them being considered a supermodel,” said Kaia Gerber, daughter of legendary model Cindy Crawford, to Vogue. 

A lot of models are pressured into keeping quiet or not speaking on beauty-related topics. However, more models are using their voice and platform to spread awareness on various topics about world relations while designers are too finding ways to break the barriers that existed within fashion and representation of diversity in the industry. 

 “This collection looks not at the Versace man, but to the Versace men,” Donatella Versace said. “It represents the next step […], not focusing on singular but on multiplicity, progression, and diversity — exactly what I see the value by the new generation and the way they express masculinity.”

Versace discusses that her latest season focuses on inclusivity. It is my hope that more designers include everyone, models should continue to use their platforms to express their beliefs to evoke change. I encourage agencies to seek out every gem whether they see the beauty at first sight or not. I encourage all genders, sizes, races and identities to remain patient with the developments the industry is making.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Voke Onoriose

Voke Onoriose

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