In the past, the public generally thought of models as tall and thin women that were known as much for their skinny look as they were for their striking beauty. This is not the case anymore as the idea of what constitutes “beauty” in the world of fashion has been changing over the last few years.
A variety of body types are on display as an increasing number of designers are moving away from the traditional fashion rules and look of a model in order to highlight diversity and uniqueness at their fashion shows.
Meet the Models Breaking Fashion Barriers
- Nigerian model Vivian Eyo-Ephraim went viral on the Internet in April 2018 when she appeared in a campaign for the British online fashion and cosmetic retailer known as ASOS. The 20-year-old plus-size model appeared in a swimsuit campaign and received an outpouring of support on social media. In an interview with the website Refinery 29, she said “I had no idea it would go viral, but I’m so grateful and excited that so many people all over the world are supporting me. I hope the industry sees this and makes a more positive direction in terms of inclusiveness for plus and curve models.”
- Diandra Forrest has the skin condition known as albinism. This condition is characterized by not enough melanin being produced and the result is little to no skin color on the person with the condition. Forrest has made it a point to raise awareness for albinism. When speaking to Glamour about the changes in beauty standards in the fashion industry, she said that “the more models there are with different looks, the more role models there will be. And I think that’s great. With my albinism, I get so many messages from people who are happy [to see me]. People are becoming a lot more open-minded and tolerant and understanding, and just, overall, better.”
- Supermodel Winnie Harlow suffers from a skin condition called vitiligo. This condition results in a patchy loss of skin color and pigmentation. She received praise for not letting the condition stop her from pursuing her dream of being a model. She has competed on “America’s Next Top Model” and, in 2018; she became the first model with vitiligo to walk the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. When asked by Vogue about why she wants to educate the public about her condition, she replied “Why is there a stigma around being different when we’re all different?”
- After starring in “American Horror Story,” Jamie Brewer has added fashion model to her resume. Brewer has Down syndrome which is a genetic disorder that causes developmental and intellectual delays in people. In 2015, she had the honor of being the first model with Down syndrome to walk in New York Fashion Week. She told the media that “Young girls and even young women . . . [see me] and say, ‘Hey, if she can do it, so can I. It’s a true inspiration being a role model for any young women to [encourage them] in being who they are and showing who they are.”
- Nyle DiMarco has been on “Dancing with the Stars” and he was the 2015 winner of “America’s Next Top Model”. DiMarco is also deaf and has served as a longtime activist for the deaf and hard of hearing community. He also established a foundation to help kids all over the globe get the access they need to sign language education. When asked about his deafness, he said it is an asset and not a limitation.
- Another model making a name in the fashion world is Jillian Mercado. She has made it her mission to bring diversity to the world since she is a model with muscular dystrophy. She was diagnosed with the disease at age 13 and grew up dreaming about being part of the fashion industry. She didn’t see models in wheelchairs in fashion magazines so Mercado made it her goal to create a change in the industry. She has appeared in ads for Diesel and Nordstrom.
- Carmen Carrera has moved from appearing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to making a big impact in the modeling world. She is also a transgender woman and is well-known for being an outspoken advocate for the transgender community.