An Instagram Feed That's Demanding More Models Of Color
Willow Smith, a free-spirited natural-haired 15 year-old icon is currently Chanel’s newest Ambassador. “Being a young African-American woman with dreads, it blows my mind that I’m a Chanel ambassador. Like, how am I a Chanel ambassador? It is so beautiful. I’m coming into a new part of my life that is completely unknown, and I’m jumping right in. All I can do from here is continue to shift paradigms and continue to push the envelope further and further. But I am doing it every day just by being myself,”- Willow Smith. And let’s not forget the street style icons and twin sisters Cipriana Quann and TK Wonder who are now IMG models and changing industry standards of beauty with every feature they embark on.
A couple of seasons back a model named Ashley B. Chew made a media splash when she was photographed by street style photographers carrying a large hand paintetd tote bag that said, "Black Models Matter." #BlackModelsMatter went viral and many were inspired, even designer Zac Posen, whose Winter collection was comprised almost entirely of gorgeous models of color like Aya Jones, Aamito Lagum, Cindy Bruna, Grace Bol and Riley Montana. Last year models from the Domincan Republic were front and center showcasing luxury brands for Spring 2016. Afrodita Dorado Dominguéz, Lineisy Montero and Luisana Gonzalez were just to name a few.
Needless to say, over the last few years, models of color have been making significant splashes but only marginal efforts in the grand scheme of things.
We all remember last year’s 2015 Victoria Secret Fashion Show. It was applauded for being Victoria Secrets most ethically diverse lineup. Chinese model Sui He was one of only four East Asian models who have ever walked the Victoria Secret Show. Another shock of the evening was Angolan model Maria Borges who made history as being the first model to rock her natural afro on the show’s runway. We certainly applaud trailblazers like He and Borges but it’s 2015 and this diversity needs to be part of the industries ethos and DNA.
Diversity on runways and in editorial campaigns has been an unapologetic challenge for many years. Many models have been crying out like Nykhor Paul who took to Instagram to blast “professional” make up artists who don’t have proper foundation for her skin tone. “...people need to expand their idea of what black models can do. Black beauty can be Chanel, black beauty can be Dior” – Nykhor Paul. We’re seeing constant white washed runways still to this day like with Gucci’s menswear show had more white female models than men of color. And the cultural appropriation in the industry is still disgustingly relevant. Valentino’s infamous SS16 show was completely inspired by indigenous culture from tribal drumming music to models wearing bone necklaces and cornrow hair styles, however, the cast was majority white and none of the women of color were African or of darker hue.
Despite small strides in progress, lack of diversity is still a MAJOR issue in today’s fashion industry. It’s time to hold designers, stylist and creative directors accountable for diversifying their messaging with a new standard of beauty. Incorporate melanin in your beauty spreads, style editorials, runway exhibitions and Instagram campaigns.
If you need help please refer to the Instagram feed @MoreModelsOfColor. This platform provides a diverse array of beautiful women from all over the world who have melanin and are just as beautiful as the stereotypical “blonde hair, blue eye”. THE TIME IS NOW AND THERE’S NO EXCUSE!
“All girls, regardless of their ethnic background, have the right to see themselves portrayed in the fashion industry” – @moremodelsofcolor