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    5 Models on What It’s Taking to Shake Up the Industry

    When I began my career as a plus-size model just five months ago, I never expected it would deepen my sense of self-love. Ever since watching America’s Next Top Model as a kid, I assumed that the fashion industry — and modeling in particular — was a superficial, hyper-critical, even toxic environment. Seeing women so callously evaluated on their appearance reinforced the idea that there were rigid expectations for how a model should look, so when I fell into getting signed by an agency (I had no portfolio and no real experience), my excitement was tainted with the fear that all these stereotypes would turn out to be true.

    Fortunately, I found hope inside the Instagram accounts of tfaswo models I’d been following since high school, Barbie Ferreira and Diana Veras. Both women proudly rep the “plus-size” label and have become bonafide advocates for body positivity and inclusivity. Their persistence has dismantled barriers for themselves and others within the industry, myself included. I’ve always felt self-conscious about my small butt and tummy rolls, but when I’m posing for a photoshoot, I feel liberated. Contrary to my expectations, modeling has shown me that my “problem areas” aren’t a problem at all.

    Today, I follow dozens of models who create positive change in various ways, reframing the way we perceive size, shape, color, gender, ability, age and beyond, and I’ve witnessed the impact of their efforts firsthand. The first time my agency took my measurements, they explained that they didn’t mind if my weight fluctuated, as long as I felt confident. I know this approach still isn’t the norm and that the modeling world has a long way to go before it achieves inclusivity in every sense of the word. To shine a light on some of the progress that has already transpired, I reached out to a handful of models who are helping the industry expand in a less homogenous direction and asked them to share their stories. Keep scrolling to read what they had to say.

    Also, Read: Visit

    Asianna Scott

     

    Why and how did you start modeling?

    I always knew that I had the look for it, and I believed in myself. I knew I could help inspire people and make a difference.

    Has the modeling industry changed since you first started out? 

    I first started out about two years ago, and in my experience clients were still very closed minded at that point in time. I didn’t really work at all the first two years after I was signed by an agency. Everyone said I looked too “different.” They said I wasn’t commercial enough, and that I had too many tattoos. My agency kept trying to change my appearance and my hair. I felt like an experiment.

    Also, Read: Visit

    The industry is a lot better now as far as being more open, but I wish that high-fashion brands would push themselves to expand their idea of what beauty really is. People still tell me I’m too different-looking, but at the same time I’ve been told by very successful photographers that they are confused about why I’m not getting booked on more jobs.

    What was one of your most frustrating or disappointing experiences while modeling?

    I hate when directors act pretentious, like they are better than everyone, and try to belittle me. I really have to control my temper when that happens.

    What was one of your most gratifying experiences while modeling?

    The best experience I’ve had so far was walking for Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief show in Cannes. I’d never walked in a real high-fashion show like that with supermodels. I felt like I belonged there, and I worked so hard to get there. I haven’t walked for my favorite high-fashion brands yet, but having the opportunity to walk among supermodels was still a huge accomplishment for me. People told me I’d never be able to do that. I also got to see France for the first time, so that was cool.

    Also, Read: Visit

    What efforts have you made to create positive change and/or more transparency in the industry?

    I always say what I feel and I’m real about it. When I work a job or shoot a campaign, I try to inspire. I speak up and try to motivate other people.

    Some outlets refer to your appearance as “androgynous.” From your perspective, has this label played a role in your career as a model?

    I’m not a big fan of putting labels on anything. I believe you should just let people be exactly who they are. I own all men’s clothes, which means I prefer to dress in men’s clothes. I feel more comfortable in them. I go to women’s castings in men’s clothes all the time and I still book women’s work.

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    I’ve accomplished a lot being exactly who I am. When I wear women’s clothes for work, I don’t feel like I’m trying to be someone else. I still feel like me because my personality doesn’t change. I’m solid and comfortable with myself, and I can wear anything. A lot of clients say I can’t wear men’s clothes because they are scared their consumers will respond negatively. I’m just waiting for people to open their minds a bit more.

    What advice do you have for someone just starting out?

    Create a plan for yourself and follow your heart. Chasing your dreams and becoming successful isn’t easy. You need to be grounded and have a strong mind. Don’t ever let fear or doubt get in the way of your dreams. Do your research and go. Don’t wait for tomorrow, do it now.


    Lauren Chan

    Why and how did you start modeling?

    I started modeling as a way to break into the fashion industry. It was kind of a technicality; I wanted to be a fashion writer and editor, but I’m from Canada and I found those visas super hard to come by compared to modeling ones.

    Has the modeling industry changed since you first started out? 

    I started working in 2012 and even then, the fashion industry was much less diverse in terms of size. I think that’s part of why I found success. I was modeling in the plus-size side of the industry and freelance writing on the mainstream side of the industry — I couldn’t figure out why no one in the latter was paying attention to the former. When I brought the two together through my editorial work, everything clicked for me.

    Also, Read: Visit

    Currently, I’d describe the industry as “in flux.” There are so many developments happening now that marginalized groups of people have been demanding for years. These demands have created an industry-wide shift toward inclusiveness, but there’s still a long, long way to go. I’m happy that things are changing and there’s room to talk about making the future of fashion better.

    What was one of your most frustrating or disappointing experiences while modeling?

    Oh man — I have a few. The worst experience I had as a model was when I was pressured into participating in a nude shoot. I didn’t know how to speak up for myself (beforehand and on set), and I regret that. However, it taught me a lesson, and now I know where my limits are and how to tell people to fuck off. Kidding. But, I am better at standing my ground.

    Also, Read: Visit

    What was one of your most gratifying experiences while modeling?

    So many! But the best thing I got out of modeling was that it taught me to not compare myself to other people. When your career depends on your looks and you constantly lose jobs to women who, essentially, look better than you (because, you know, they got the job and you didn’t), it can put you in a really unhealthy place mentally. It got so bad for me that I had to totally eliminate all behaviors that encouraged comparison. It’s a habit I’m so grateful to have ditched.

    What efforts have you made to create positive change and/or more transparency in the industry?

    Hopefully tons. As a fashion editor at Glamour, I really pushed to make the magazine more size-inclusive. We had a number of early features on the plus-size market, I ended up having a monthly column on the subject (as well as an online vertical), we published two sponsored issues entirely for women above size 12, I designed 10 Glamour x Lane Bryant clothing collections and I helped designers like Tanya Taylor launch extended sizes. Now I’m continuing to lean into size inclusion on my own terms.

    What advice do you have for someone just starting out?

    Even more so than when I was a model, consumers, brands, publications and the powers that be are eager to embrace individuality. So be yourself! Make your social media unique. Dress in a way only you can. Embrace your quirky hobbies. The list goes on!

    Also, Read: Visit

    Carmen Fozzard

    Why and how did you start modeling?

    I started modeling through Instagram! My now-agent direct messaged me on the app and asked me to come into the agency. I had never thought about modeling before then, but I went in and got signed that day.

    Also, Read: Visit

    Has the modeling industry changed since you first started out? 

    I’m really lucky because I came into the industry at a time when other curve and brown models had already paved the way for me. I’ve heard some real horror stories about how plus-size girls were treated as recently as four or five years ago. I haven’t really had to deal with that kind of open harassment because other girls pushed for a change.

    The fashion industry is constantly evolving and becoming more and more inclusive, which is an amazing thing, but I am also very conscious that many brands only want curve models or women of color in their shoots to cash in on a diversity or body positive hashtag. Young people are really starved for visibility and want to see people who look like them in campaigns (and rightfully so), but it seems like some companies are capitalizing on that demand for the sole purpose of making money, and they don’t actually care about the customers they claim to support. Some magazines will have an editorial featuring curve models, encouraging people to love their bodies, and then the next page is an article on how to lose 15 pounds in a week. Another example I can think of is when a friend told me she did a shoot where one of the models was in a wheelchair, but the studio wasn’t wheelchair accessible.

    Also, Read: Visit

    What was one of your most frustrating or disappointing experiences while modeling?