Thursday, 18 September 2014

Models of Diversity

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In the wake of London Fashion Week what better time to talk fashion. In my post on body image, which you can read here. I mentioned an organization called Models of diversity. As their name suggests, Models of Diversity, are campaigning for the use of more diverse models in the fashion and advertising industries. Calling for more equality on our catwalks and in magazines. They are saying that the fashion industry needs to be more representative of a larger cross section of society. And there are so many cultures, ethnicities and lifestyles that are not represented fairly, even today in an age where we are educated about racism and political correctness.

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I don't often read magazines now, but when I do it strikes me that more diverse models seem to be used as a 'token gesture' almost, and I do hate using that phrase. But it does almost appear like 'oh we've added a black model in to the mix to avoid any claims we're not an equal opportunities employer.' It's something I think a lot of brands are doing. And let's face it it's a pretty lazy way to tackle diversity. Because yes, diversity is about colour but it's about much much more than that. In an interview click to view male model Rob Evans says that it's only ever the same faces too and that he can visit various casting agencies and only see 2 black models on their books. He admits that because of his colour he was held back from many castings. He explains that in Brazil they have a policy of 50/50 casting. However the issue in his own words is that Brazil is not known as a fashion capital. More diversity needs to be shown on the catwalks of New York, Milan, Paris and London in order to make a real change. These are the shows that have the most influence. In a recent vlog Youtuber Tanya Burr said that she loved London Fashion Week because you could look around and everyone was so different. After all London itself is a melting pot of diversity. But is that being reflected on the catwalk, really?

The founder of Models of Diversity, Angel Sinclair (seen above) asks 'Where are the models of colour? The bigger models? The shorter models? The models with a disability? The older models?' and has established the organization to help make the fashion, beauty and marketing worlds more diverse places. A place where more consumers can identify themselves. With the ultimate aim 'to change the face of fashion and modelling.'

Angel, herself was inspired to start Models of Diversity after appearing on Gok Wan's Miss Naked Beauty and being surrounded by beauty in many, many forms. She noticed a clear contrast in what we perceive to be beautiful and what the magazines and fashion industries tell us is beautiful. And so Models of Diversity was born. They strongly believe in getting the publics opinion and asking them what they want to see on the catwalks and magazines and transferring that information into the fashion industries.

But where does the blame lie? With the designers? With the model agencies? Or casting directors? The following video is a CNN intervew with Iman, discussing the issue and how she thinks there needs to be a radical change in the Fashion industry. I think each of them has a responsibility to make the changes. However if the model agencies do not have more diverse models on their books, like Rob Evans pointed out, then the casting directors and designers don't have the choice available to them. Likewise if a model agency does not send their models to castings.

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Whilst Models of Diversity recognise the need for more diveristy in fashion and modelling, they also understand that modelling on a professional scale is not for everyone. It takes a certain skill set and creativity. It is the same with an profession. But what Models of Diversity are saying is that if you have that potential then being more culturally diverse should not impact whether you get the job. And Models of Diversity are there to support aspiring models on their journey with training and test shoots. As well as promoting these models in the hope that agencies, casting directors, marketing executives and designers will take notice. As well as telling these models that they can be beautiful/ sexy/ glamorous. Building their confidence; which in itself is important, when they are used to thinking they are different and not seeing themselves represented in magazines and other advertising. In an interview on Sky News (which you can view here), model and director for disabled models at Models of Diversity, Chelsey Jay, explained that it's hard and isolating to be young but to not see yourself represented.

With the fashion industries, media and magazines being so powerful in their influence on so many people, especially young people seeing more diversity and widening the perception on beauty and attractiveness then perhaps more tolerance and understanding will stem from that. As well as inspiring more confidence in lots of men and women that feel they are not beautiful because they do not look like the models in the magazines. Now wouldn't that be nice?

To find out more about Models of Diversity visit their website, view plenty more videos of their events, campaigns and catwalks on Angel's youtube channel. Stay tuned for another Models of Diversity post on here soon.

Sian x

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