The Model Diversity Project Promotes Inclusion in the Fashion Industry
In recent years, body positivity has become a hot topic. Trailblazers like Tess Holiday and Ashley Graham have helped open the world of fashion to plus size bloggers, models, etc. and showcase the importance of inclusive clothing brands and e-retailers. Even the iconic Project Runway hopped on the bandwagon by featuring a size-inclusive range of models from sizes 0-22 for the first time in all of its 16 seasons. While all of this is great progress, the fashion and beauty industries still have a long way to go with inclusivity and diversity.
To help drive this movement towards creativity, veteran model Liris Crosse and makeup artist Christopher Michael have graced the Internet with “The Model Diversity Project.” They revealed the project to the public in an interview with Mic. The first installment from the campaign, for which Crosse and Michael served as creative directors with assistance from acclaimed hair stylist Yancey Edwards and stylist Steffany Allen, is a photo shoot (shot by Ken Robinson) that features models of different sizes, ages, and races. The social media campaign highlights these models in an editorial manner to shutdown the notion that beauty comes in one package. Alongside Crosse, the photo shoot features four plus size models: Naimah Terry, Monique Robinson, Denka Obradovic and Elly Mayday.
Crosse explained that “I felt that the strongest way to prove our beauty and show our beauty is to do it editorially [...] A lot of times you see plus models in catalogues, and e-commerce. I’m talking about Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar — and not just a shape issue.”
It’s extremely difficult and rare for plus size women and women of color to get modeling jobs outside of ecommerce and niche brands that cater to a specific audience. We’re confined to the label “urban.” We are told that our look isn’t high fashion enough to grace the pages of a magazine or to be featured in an editorial shoot, which is why representation like this is so important, especially for young girls of color to see.
“We wanted to show the beauty where it’s not just one model by themselves but all of us together," Liris said in the interview. "This is personal. This is the world that I see. I see light, black, Asian, Latina. I see older models, younger models.”
One of the lesser-talked about and normalized issues in the modeling industry is ageism. America’s Next Top Model just lifted the age cap on the show this season, allowing a 42-year-old contestant to make it into the top six. Could you imagine how many stunning older women could have gotten noticed had they lifted the age cap years ago? Something as simple as a number has opened doors for so many previously excluded women. This quest for inclusivity and representation drive the Model Diversity Project.
The team behind the Model Diversity Project is urging us to question the kind of people who are included in mainstream media. Why are we not seeing more models that resemble the everyday women who are buying these products from fashion and beauty companies? There are clothing and beauty products targeting every type of consumer, so why does the advertising not reflect that?
“Beauty isn’t just one look," Christopher said. So I challenge fashion magazines to do better and bring more inclusion to these spreads. Feature more POCs and plus size models, and see how quickly the subscriptions go up. Women want to see real women that look like them. Give us representation and we’ll give you support. In the words of Liris Crosse, “A great face is a great face period.”
You can learn more about The Model Diversity Project in the video below.