Fashion

Fashion’s Lack of Diversity Confronted With Instagram’s #RunwayForAll

It’s no secret there’s a diversity problem in fashion. We see it all the time in campaigns and runway shows. Over the past few years, social media has become a space where people are learning to accept their bodies and are doing away with societal standards of beauty. The body positivity movement we are witnessing is making several companies take notice and Instagram is joining in with its new initiative, #RunwayForAll.

#RunwayForAll shines a light on diversity in the modeling industry and every day this week a model’s story is featured on the app’s namesake account, which boasts 162 million followers.

An Instagram representative told Refinery29 the five models they chose for the campaign were picked for “redefining industry standards and making sure there’s room on the #RunwayForAll.”

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On Monday, the first model featured was Mama Cax (@caxmee), a Haitian blogger and model who had her leg amputated at 18.

“The majority of humans do not look like the mainstream idea of beauty…Through modeling I hope to show that beauty does not always wear a size zero and beauty does not always walk on two limbs,” she wrote.

“#RunwayForAll means any teenager feels represented when they open a magazine or watch a fashion show,” says Mama Cax (@caxmee). Mama grew up in Haiti, lives in New York City and never aspired to be a model — “not only because there were very few dark models on magazine covers but also because I grew up with very little knowledge of the fashion industry,” she says. “Eight years ago, after getting my leg amputated, the idea of being a model was even more far-fetched.” Today, Mama is modeling and doing other things that she was told there was no audience for, like sharing tips for traveling as a black female amputee. “The majority of humans do not look like the mainstream idea of beauty,” she says. “One of the greatest barriers is not belonging. Through modeling I hope to show that beauty does not always wear a size zero and beauty does not always walk on two limbs.” Every day this week, we’ll be sharing the story of a model who is redefining industry standards and making sure there’s room on the #RunwayForAll. Photo of @caxmee by @simonhuemaen

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

On Tuesday, model Shaun Ross, whom you’ve seen in a few of Beyonce‘s videos, shared his story about being a gay male model with albinism in the industry.

“I remember when I first entered the industry all I saw were models that looked the same,” he wrote.

“Now here we are almost 10 years later, and I see the choice I’ve made has helped the industry to see beauty in many ways, such as casting models and rising icons like@winnieharlow, @jilly_peppa, and more to help lead the fight with me to diversity.”

He also shared some of the adversity he faced being openly gay in his first years of modeling.

“Agents always told male models to be masculine, but that was never the case for me. I never wanted to hide my sexuality.” 

“#RunwayForAll is a world where everyone is treated the same,” says Shaun Ross (@shaundross). When he started modeling nearly a decade ago, Shaun was the only male model of color with albinism. “I remember when I first entered the industry all I saw were models that looked the same,” he says. “Now here we are almost 10 years later, and I see the choice I’ve made has helped the industry to see beauty in many ways, such as casting models and rising icons like @winnieharlow, @jilly_peppa and more to help lead the fight with me to diversity.” When he started, Shaun was one of a few openly gay models in the industry. “Agents always told male models to be masculine, but that was never the case for me. I never wanted to hide my sexuality,” he says. “I’d rather be myself.” Photo by @shaundross

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

Other models expected to be featured on Instagram’s account this week are plus-size model, Clementine Desseaux (@bonjourclem), Black model Londone Myers (@londonemyers) and Jillian Mercado (@jilly_peppa), a model with muscular dystrophy.

“Our goal is to highlight some of the bravest and most creative models on Instagram who are building their own audiences and telling their own stories,” said Kristen Joy Watts, fashion and arts community lead at Instagram to Refinery29.

“These breakout stars aren’t conforming to the industry’s traditional mold, and in fact, are redefining it.”

Many hashtags supporting body positivity and diversity in fashion have popped up over the past year. Instagram is now an important medium people use to stay-in-the-know about the fashion industry and an outlet for those who feel they don’t fit mainstream beauty standards.

 

 

Photo Credit: i-d.vice.com

Brittney Fennell

Brittney Fennell

Brittney is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and a writer who has goals to disrupt culture in ways unseen.