“It was humiliating and I just felt alone.”
Raven Schexnayder went viral on social media after sharing a hair nightmare video he saw as a model for Frederick Anderson. The 21-year-old documented how her coiled, textured hair was neglected by stylists who instructed her to slick her ponytail. Ultimately, she walked down the runway in an afro textured front and a silky hairpiece that failed to blend in the back.
“I don’t think only black people should touch my head or anything…[but]if you don’t know how to do curly hair, you need to educate yourself. It’s the fashion industry,” Schexnayder said. increase.
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She added that stylists didn’t have the products to show they were ready to deal with dark hair. Be prepared to do more than what you are meant to do. A shared experience between runway models and Hollywood actors highlights that white beauty standards are the blueprint, and everyone else is the “other.”
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“It’s not normal. We don’t let white people get their hair done before they come to the show,” says Schexnayder.
High fashion is all about exclusivity, most evident at invite-only fashion weeks in places like New York and Paris. But can any industry that is exclusive find a way to be inclusive when it comes to diversity? The jury is out yet.
Fashion is still founded on the ideals of exclusivity and aspiration, but changing consumer desires have led people to question why.or why Models like Iman, Naomi Campbell, Winnie Harlow, Ashley Graham and Madeline Stuart have helped change the perception of what a runway model should look like.
In 2022, having models of different races, sizes, abilities, or ages isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it’s also not becoming the norm in fashion weeks around the world.
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Runway inclusivity is years behind for models with disabilities
New York and London Fashion Weeks have been at the forefront of inclusiveness with several shows featuring models with visible disabilities. The city once hosted Open Style Lab’s “Double Take” show. The show featured adaptive he closing of the brand, dominated by models with disabilities and inspired by people with spinal muscular atrophy. Meanwhile, in London, a panel was held in collaboration with the British Fashion Council and the Valuable 500 to discuss disability inclusion, challenges and triumphs.
in New York, Various studio 189, Guvanch, Johnathan Hayden, Edwing D’Angelo, Vogue World It was “surreal” for 28-year-old model Bri Scalesse, who appeared in three shows.
“They really cared about true inclusivity and it wasn’t a moment when someone on the runway shocked people,” she says.
But these shows are the exception, not the rule.
According to Scalesse, many people in the industry don’t always think about models with disabilities when casting under the guise of diversity.
“[The industry]thinks it’s okay to not have a single disabled person in your show. No one turns a blind eye. And it’s really hard,” she says.
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Scalesse says her agency, We Speak Models, has aligned accessibility with the brand and has found the overall experience as a wheelchair user to be positive. Her agency sent her portfolio to a wide range of casting her directors, whether her fashion house was looking for models with disabilities. But New York Fashion Week’s hub, Spring Studios, didn’t fully allow people with disabilities to use accessible features alone without an attendant, she says, Scalesse said. .
Some feel the industry is actively shutting out the disabled community because of the perception that it “ruins the look of high-end brands,” said model Roysin Clear. The whole idea of the look is very exclusive…it is inherently capable.”
Laura Winson, whose London-based talent agency Zebedee represents models with a range of disabilities, visible differences and gender identities, said the fashion industry still “sees disability as a diverse set of characteristics they want to represent.” It’s hard to break through these models if none of your design teams or publicists are considering them when implementing diversity.
Casting Director Noah Shelley said of Fashion Week, “In my experience, it’s very rare that I’ve been asked for a model with a disability[by a designer]on the runway.”
Whether the evolutionary dynamics continue beyond what Scalesse calls “tokenism” is the next hurdle for the industry.
“It has to be long-term,” says Clear.
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We need to celebrate plus-size models of all body types
Plus-size models, with faces like Graham, Precious Lee, Iskra Lawrence and Tess Holliday, have slowly cemented their place in the fashion industry. Seeing those “beautiful babes strutting their stuff” inspired Nicole Dennis Johansson to become a model.
Johansson, 37, says inclusion “misses a lot of opportunities” and “frustration”.
“We don’t see enough different sizes, different body types, abilities, or cultures coming through,” she says.
Two common criticisms permeate the conversation: there aren’t enough plus-size models, and the need to represent more non-hourglass models.
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Gita Omri’s mirror image runway show at New York Fashion Week went viral with straight-size and plus-size models walking side-by-side in the same design.
Omri says he created a size 2 sample size (the industry standard) and a size 20 as “a way to give it back to the industry and all the people who initially told me they couldn’t do this.”
Before Fashion Week became a global spectacle, Shelly said it was designed to be a “glamourized fair.”
Since then, consumers have changed their attitudes about viewing models as clothing racks, but that doesn’t change every dollar and cent. It doubles the cost,” he said. Because if you have a different body type, you can’t simply use a size 2 pattern and go up a size.
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Where will fashion go from here?
The industry continues to need more work, despite its push for inclusivity.
Johansson says the issue is “nuanced” and the crux of it is a lack of trust.
“We don’t have that confidence when we’re not represented. Even at our size, we were hesitant to try anything because that representation wasn’t there.” she explains.
Scalesse emphasizes that demand must exist for momentum to continue.
“Seeing more people advocate for us in that field just lifts our shoulders,” she says. And it’s just great to have someone with us behind our backs.”
Shelley says he tried to create a union among casting directors to “blacklist clients so they don’t behave badly,” but the resistance made it clear some didn’t want to change the industry. became.
Transparency is also important. “I’ve heard the phrase ‘we’re working on it’ for years, sometimes there’s no follow-through at all, other times it’s like, ‘Oh, here’s 2X.’ “They’re throwing crumbs and asking us to thank them,” says Johansson. “I want more”
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