Diversity in the modelling World

The modelling world is a huge industry. It’s in the media, in television and magazines. It helps shapeour ideas and influences the clothes we covet, it teaches our children what beautiful is, but does it represent us well as individuals and does it convey the rich diversity present in our society?

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Modelling across the age spectrum

Looking for diversity in the modelling world, I found the majority of models are younger than 20 years old, starting when there 15 years old. I did however find “ Older models in fashion”, on older models ages 60, 70 and 80 years old who are shaking up the fashion industry. These older women haven’t been modelling for the last 60 to 80 years instead one of the women left to have children, one was an actor, and the other women stated she’s about to retire for the 5th time in her life.
While Millions of women hope to grow old looking as beautiful as these women, it’s not as easy as it might seem. Older models have had plastic surgery because in the modelling world you can’t look as old as you are, you must be thin, and not too sexy, as who wants to see an older women as sexy.  We are more comfortable imagining them as our mothers and grandmothers.
There’s a classic divide in the fashion industry when it comes to one’s modelling career after the age of 28. “Older models in fashion” goes on to tell you what kind of products older models advertise and it’s everything that your grandparents need.  From stair lifts, to bath salts, to medical aids, & anything related to health. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw older model advertising for a cell phone company or an expensive car, usually I see them advertising for will’s or insurance for people 60 and older.

Is there enough ethnic diversity in fashion?

Reading up on the ethnic diversity in the modelling world I was surprised by the lack diversity in models that are modelling on fashion runways particularly brand names such as Calvin Klein, Lacoste,Victoria Beckham,BCBG Max Azria, Derek Lam, and Diesel. We look at models as an individual we can or want to identify with.

According to Jenna Sauers in 2012, 79.0% were white, 2.4% were Latina, 8.8% were Asian, 8.0% are black and 0.9% was other.

With their perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect body but have we ever really looked at how many white individuals compared to the rest of the populations such as Latina’s, Asians, and blacks are really modelling out there.  This is just for fashion week and makes me wonder if the individuals they pick for magazines or fashion shows are just as diverse or is the same kind of concept used when picking models.

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Why are white individuals more prominent than the others? The same article went on to talk about the fall fashion week of 2012 had the most diverse models the fashion industry has seen in the last 8 years. Out of 4, 561 models, 3,641 models were white and 920 were models of colour. While their  study shows 8 seasons of data, it’s still mostly white individuals that are used for fashion. It does make you wonder if there really is a preference over caucasian models when people of every color buy their clothes. It seems to me that the fashion industry thinks that their clothes look better on white individuals than any other. Why? Shouldn’t their clothes be made for everyone?

Related Article: Diversity in Fashion

The modelling industry, is it impacting our children?

While some of us look at model’s bodies and wish we had the flat stomach or the what seems like the perfect body that men and women drool over, I don’t think I’ve ever thought I wonder how they get perfect body other than eating right or working out, but I guess it’s more than that. The horror stories that models eat cotton or tissues to stave off hunger. Models collapsing from malnutrition-induced heart attacks just seconds after they step off the runway these are just some of the horror stories that have been told. This is a huge controversy for decades that continue to impact young girls and even adults to strive for the perfect body through extreme dieting and exercise.

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When Rachel Christine did a survey and asked teen girls what their main wish would be if they could have anything in the world, their answer was they wished to lose weight and to keep it off. I was surprised at this answer, as I can’t remember being a young girl wanting to lose weight and keep it off, if anything I probably wished for a later bedtime or to do whatever I wanted. My weight was the last thing on my mind. So why this answer? What makes them want this so badly more than anything in the world? 83% of adolescent girls read fashion magazines for an average of 4 hours every week. In these teen and women’s magazines, advertisements for diets and weight loss programs are 10 times more common than they are in men’s magazines.

Related Article: Plus Size Eco Fashion

The women in these magazines, which are most likely airbrushed, are thin and flawless making our children believe that they should be thin, tall and not have any imperfections. Girls are being taught to obsess over their appearance, their weight, and whether their bodies are “good enough.”

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Blogger Jes Baker changes this Lane Bryant Campaign to Empower all bodies

The average woman is 5’4″ tall, and weighs 166 lbs. In comparison, the average model is 5’10” tall and weighs only 107 lbs.  We as parents of young children are told to empower our children, to help them be the best they can be. No young girl should grow up looking at magazines wanting to be taller or skinnier or be anyone that they are not. All of our children are beautiful in their own way and no magazine or commercial on television should make them believe they’re not as beautiful as those women on the magazines.

Young girls as early as the age of 10 look at models in the fashion magazines ads as the ideal body type. Any parent has legitimate concerns that what children see in the media can lead to body image issues and eating disorders. Even with Dove coming out with their commercials on how you should love yourself no matter what, girls look at these models on the cover of magazines and think that’s how you need to look to be beautiful. The average international runway model has a body mass index under 16 — low enough to indicate starvation by the World Health Organization’s standard. What are we teaching our children for the future. Regardless of how much you teach your children to love themselves no matter their body weight, no matter how they look, it’s the media, television that really shapes are children for the future.

Dove Womens Campaign

Dove Real Beauty Campaign

Modelling should be an industry that we all can identify with; an accurate representation of our diverse society.  While I realize that there are fashion designers and brands for plus sized individuals, we should advocate of every kind of body type in every skin colour while promoting a healthy body image through fitness and good eating habits.  I myself could eat healthy every day, stop eating fatty foods, work out 6 days a week and I still would have the stretch marks and mommy tummy because they are a part of me from having my son and that I wouldn’t change the world. Do I look at models and wish I had that fat stomach, perfect body and perfect skin? Sure I do. Do I hope when I’m 60 to look as beautiful as the women that are still modelling? Definitely, but I’m not going to go out and spend thousands of dollars getting plastic surgery to get rid of the crow’s feet or any other imperfections I may have when I’m that age.

Plus-Size-Clothing-For-Women
Children should be able to grow up without the added pressure from the fashion industry’s idea of beauty and that imperfections make us unique. Children shouldn’t grow up thinking they need to be a perfect weight or anything perfect to be beautiful after all unless you are a model how perfect are you really?? I’d rather a world where you look at magazines and see fashion shows of all sizes, race and age. Where my son can look at a magazine or even watch the fashion show (if that’s his thing) and not think you need a perfect body to be perfect or the perfect woman looks like those models without any imperfections.

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