So apparently the only women worthy of wearing fashionable clothes and gracing fashion runways are thin and white (at least that’s what the vast majority of the fashion industry would have us believe); however, I, and I’m sure many others, would beg to differ. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being thin and/or white, but let’s face it, women come in a whole lot more shapes, sizes, and colors, and it’s high time the fashion industry begins to showcase that. I’m not saying that non-Caucasian models are better than Caucasian models, nor am I calling for a ban on thin models at all. I just think it’s time that the fashion industry recognizes the beauty that is the diversity of the female form and celebrate it instead of perpetuating one narrow standard of beauty.
The fashion industry has made some progress in its model representation over the years; however, more work needs to be done to make the fashion world more inclusive. The Fashion Spot’s Spring 2016 Diversity Report, a report based on over 300 fashion shows and almost 10,000 models of the New York, London, Paris, and Milan Spring 2016 Fashion Weeks, reveals just how much work still needs to be done. According to the report, of the 9,926 model appearances during the Spring 2016 season, 77.6% were White (down from 80% for the Fall 2015 season), 8.5% Black, 7.7% Asian, 2.6% Latina, and only 0.1% were “plus-size” (that’s only 14 models!).
The magnitude of this lack of diversity in this day and age is absolutely appalling, and there’s simply no excuse for it. The fashion industry is long overdue for a shift towards diversity and inclusiveness, and in order for the necessary changes to occur, we can no longer accept the status quo. Former model turned fashion activist and founder of Diversity Coalition/ Balance Diversity Bethann Hardison has been doing just that, speaking up on the need for more diversity in the fashion industry. Through her tireless efforts and the work of many others, the discussion of diversity, including race, age, body type, disabilities/handicaps, etc., in the fashion industry has been brought to the forefront and some changes are being made as a result. As more brave individuals stand up for better representation in the fashion industry, the dream of an inclusive fashion world will become more of a reality.
"Diversity is everything. Inclusion leads to understanding, demystification, destigmatization. Fashion has the power to glorify bodies and identities--to include them in a narrative of luxury and beauty".
- Hari Nef