The fashion industry world over has been known for its slim and lean beauties walking down the ramp, but these norms have been challenged recently, with some bold women thrashing preconceived notions by accepting their own body types, whether fit or fat. Breaking stereotypes, these women have been appreciating beauties in myriad forms, paving the way for more to follow. They have shattered the rules of the fashion industry, changing the style game and giving birth to body positive images. The slim body size for a model is not the only way to go, as proved by gorgeous ladies like Olivia Campbell, Ashley Graham, Bishamber Das and Philomena Kwao, among many. Neither is it a rule that differently abled females cannot be models, as proved by Viktoria Modesta, Brunette Moffy and some more.
It is commendable that because of the courage of these ladies, the tide is slowly shifting with more unconventional models appearing in advertisements and cover pages. These models are today posing as an agent for change. From varying waist sizes to rare medical condition and disabilities, these beauties have interesting stories to tell about breaking provincial standards of beauty. Sports Illustrated’s 2016 Swimsuit Issue graced by plus-size models for the first time!
Here is a list of 11 international models who are today taking the fashion world by a storm by creating better role models for the women of today:
Brunette Moffy grabbed eyeballs when she appeared on the cover of POP magazine by chance after she was recommended to the editor by a friend. Moffy suffers from strabismus or crossed eyes, which quickly got her attention from the fashion industry. After which she the unconventional model earned her another big modelling gig, as the face of Storm Models – the agency which discovered Kate Moss. (Image Credits- DailyMail)
Jillian Mercado is a survivor of muscular dystrophy, but she did not let it affect her dreams of being a model. Although she moves around on a wheelchair, her striking features have made her the talk of the town. She has modelled for brands like Nordstrom and Diesel. It is a dream come true for Jillian Mercado to be able to live the career she imagined.
Diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of four, Winnie Harlow never thought she would be able to become a popular model. With white patches on her skin, she was called ‘zebra’ or ‘cow’ by school bullies. Depressed a number of times, she changed schools and even tried to commit suicide. From there, today she has modelled for Diesel and been on the cover of glossy magazines. Harlow was discovered on Instagram by model and actor Tyra Banks and appeared on America’s Next Top Model, after which her career sky-rocketed. In 2011, Winnie first spoke about her skin condition publicly in a YouTube video titled Vitiligo: A Skin Condition not a Life Changer. (Image Credits- Winnie Harlow Instagram)
Viktoria Modesta’s leg and hip were dislocated during her birth and she had to endure 15 surgeries before she got her leg amputated. Six years after her amputation, she released a video on Prototype in which she challenged preconceptions about disability and sexuality. Despite her disability, Viktoria dances like any other contemporary pop star with her prosthetic limb. She spent her childhood in a lot of pain following which as a youth she decided to amputated her knee to pursue her art. Today, Viktoria is a singer and performer. She grabbed attention at the 2012 London Paralympics closing ceremony when she wore a limb covered in Swarovski diamonds! (Image Credit- Viktoria Modesta Instagram)
Madeline Stuart is a famous 19-year-old model with Down Syndrome. She made her second public appearance when she walked at the New York Fashion Week 2016. Challenging conventions of beauty, Stuart looked stunning when she walked down the ramp at the fashion week with a smile. She is one of the women who are known for bringing diversity into fashion and inspiring others. She will be launching her own fashion label at the New York Fashion Week 2017 in February. (Image Credits- ABC)
Casey Legler is the first woman with a contract as a male Ford Model, and she models men’s clothes! The French-born Olympic swimmer became a model by chance when a photographer friend used her picture in a photo essay. It was then that the Ford modelling agency spotted the six foot, two inches tall girl with incredible looks. Breaking conventions, Casey Legler was signed on to their men’s section the next day. Casey had gained the world’s attention first when she swam for France at the 1996 Atlanta Games. (IC- Casey Legler Pinterest)
Masha Tyelna became famous by her incredibly beautiful huge eyes. Her career began when she was found shopping with family in Kiev. At the age of six, she turned from an ordinary school girl into a model. She has also participated in the Paris Fashion Week and worked with legendary brands likes Givenchi, Yves Saint Laurent, Dries van Noten, etc. (Image Credits- inleatherblogspot)
Diandra Forrest made her runway debut at New York Fashion Week with her newborn baby cradled in her arms! Forrest is an African American and an Albino fashion model. She became popular due to her inherited disorder. After being teased in childhood for being white among her predominantly African American neighbourhood, Diandra’s parents took her out of school. She then shifted to the New York Institute For Special Education. (Image Credits- Elton Anderson)
The 85-year-old model Carmen Dell’orefice recently closed the show for Guo Pei dressed in blood red crystals and cascading lace. The ‘World’s Oldest Working Model’ appeared on the cover of Vogue at age 15, and 70 years later, she’s still going strong and giving young models a run for their money! (Image Credits- HelloGiggles)
Denise Bidot became the first plus-size woman to walk the ramp in a fashion week. The model also made headlines when she appeared in an unretouched Lane Bryant ad where she proudly put on display her stretch marks. (Image Credits- HelloGiggles)
Khoudia Diop is a Senegalese model with an incredibly shiny skin. Known as the ‘Melanin Goddess’, she took the Internet by storm with her beautiful rich skin tone. But she was bullied during her growing up years due to her skin colour. However, Diop did not let the comments affect her dreams. Diop started modelling at 17 and today has a great fan following on Instagram! She was once quoted as saying, “If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.” (Image Credits- The Inquisitr)
While some may feel that fashion houses and brands have been hiring these models for publicity, at large we can see the standards of fashion being shattered at the very foundation by these courageous models. While the message is yet to be spread to major parts of the world, seeing popular brands accepting the change is noteworthy. More power to these ladies for having the guts to challenge stereotypes and live bravely! (Featured Image Credits- Instagram)