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Diversity in the Fashion World: Just How Far Have We Really Come?

Updated on April 8, 2018
These days models come in all shapes and sizes and colors. It's rare to see an all white runway show nowadays. But it hasn't completely come full circle to diversity.
These days models come in all shapes and sizes and colors. It's rare to see an all white runway show nowadays. But it hasn't completely come full circle to diversity.

Diversity in the Fashion Industry

As I scroll my way through Instagram I realize I'm seeing more and more "Pro Black" accounts. You know, those accounts that use diversity as a selling point. I realize that we shouldn't have to have accounts that are calling for diversity. The world is a giant melting pot. These specific accounts talk about how we need to see more of our beautiful dark women and men on the covers of fashion magazine and on those amazing sparkling runways. I'm here for it! I do believe the more we as a world come to accept each other and include everyone in what we do the sooner we'll get to some sort of peace.

In the title I mentioned some of the most famous black/African models to date. The ones who paved the way for the Models of Color (MOC) we see today. Naomi was the first black woman on many of these covers (Vogue specifically). Same goes for Tyra, Oluchi, Beverly etc. It's well known that now that Naomi has created such a legacy that she has she's advocating for more diversity in the industry. Earlier this year I saw an account with a post questioning why Naomi hadn't done this before. Many who responded on her defense stated the same thought I had- When Naomi was up and coming she was one of the very few MOC and while she could have spoken up, it wouldnt not have done much. She wasn't a well known model yet and so she could have been replaced with another of the five black models. At this point in her career she can now use the influence she has amassed as a stepping stool to help others. Same with Tyra. She and Naomi actually reportedly had a falling out regarding their positions as models. All that any designer ever wsnted was that model of color. And the few that existed had to fight each other for that spot.

In January Tyra Banks visited the AOL Build Series stage to hold a Q&A before she returned to ANTM and an audience member asked her if she thought the fashion industry was liberal, and if so, why has it taken so long for us to see more inclusive beauty standards, and less racially insensitive ad campaigns? In response, Banks laid out one of the biggest problems in the fashion world.

Tyra flat out said "No". She does not think the fashion industry is liberal. While those within it may be liberal-leaning, she says the industry as a whole doesn't support the label, and there are some people who want nothing more than for everything to stay the same no matter how outdated it may be. Designers and the industry itself have a serious flaw. They tend to decided which ethnicity in "In" for any given season. They don't seem to realize (except I believe they do.) how insensitive it can look to those who are seeing that the way they look is just a trend to others. That other than that they're ignored until their look comes back in style.

ANTM is one of the few shows that showcases diversity. However according to her more needed to be done. We shouldn't have to sit and wait for the next new thing in hope it's black culture or Asian etc. "Oh, it's a black-girl season! Oh, it's a Brazilian season! OK, now where are they? Oh, it's the Russians! Oh, now it's the Asian girls!" Banks continued: "To me, race is not a trend. My skin is not a trend; your skin is not a trend. We are who we are, so we should not go in and out of fashion. My booty, her booty, should not go in and out of fashion, that should just be."

She said these girls are used and onjectified. "A trend should be what we put on our bodies, not our bodies. And so that's the part of fashion that I don't like, is they'll say, 'Oh, the chocolate girls with the short hair is in for two years.' And now, where's that girl? She's trying to figure out how she's going to pay her bills, because she's no longer hot, and cannot pay to get hired. And that's what hurts me."

We have people like Rihanna trying to bring inclusion into the industry. Her line Fenty is dedicated to all shades but is more known for shades that are available to every color. Lights, darks and in between are all represented. This is a jump from others where the darkest color is a Carmel and it's labelled "Dark" or where there isn't anything lighter than a peach tint.

We have runways like Victoria's Secret putting in more MOC/cultures while still using a culture to profit off of (such as Karlie Kloss's Native American outfit for their Calendar Girls segment or Elsa Hosk's New Year's Dragon ensemble). Multiple brands misappropriate cultures to grow profits and then ignore the models from those cultures and use white models to sell their product. And it is not the models fault. Their jobs to sell the clothing. The designers need to recognize what they are doing and change. But I've seen that as long as money is an option people don't change.

So even though we've come quite a long way, we still have so far to go. The world is a giant melting pot and the longer we try to keep one thing the same the longer we're refusing to join the reality we are in.



Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell

© 2018 Rochelle Crud


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