When I first read about Chantelle Brown-Young – AKA Winnie Harlow – breaking into the modelling industry, I whooped inside. For so long, the fashion industry has had such a focus on a similar look and frame and it was refreshing to see a beautiful woman, challenging societal norms and breaking boundaries. As a person who suffers from Vitiligo, she is now walking some of the most infamous catwalks in the world – something previously unheard of. She told The Guardian in an interview, “If one day I’m all black, I’m still a model. If one day I’m all white, I’m still a model. I am not my skin. I am a model with a skin condition.” It’s not just Winne though. An industry that once placed all its emphasis on a ‘perfect’ look, are now embracing those who are not seen to be the stereoytype – and that is WONDERFUL. So, we’ve rounded up some of our top models below whose journeys have inspired us, who have unassumingly challenging the ‘perfect’ sterotype and are championing the way to permenant, societal change.
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Kelly Knox was born without her left lower arm and refused at the age of just 8 years old to wear a prosthetic. Fast forward the years and Kelly is now a successful model and body confidence advocate who was crowned Britain’s Missing Top Model in 2008. She’s also listed in the ‘Power 100’ which recognises Britain’s most inspiring, disabled people. She continously uses her following to encourage people to celebrate their differences and love themselves because of it.
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She gained massive popularity in her native Denmark when upon being scouted at a bus stop, she became the first hijab-wearing woman to sign to a local model agency. She’s now walked for Max Mara, the Italian fashion house, for her first Milan Fashion week appearance and we think we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the years to come.
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Originally hailing from Haiti, Souffrant moved to Brooklyn with his mother where he was taunted regularly over his appearance due to his beautiful freckles. Now a regular on the catwalk, this positive pioneer made his debut when he was personally chosen by Kanye West to model for Yeezy Season 3 from an open casting out of 1000 models. Whilst his career has continued to go from strength to strength – he became the first male to model for Beyonce’s Ivy Park collection – he keeps himself grounded and regularly promotes the message of inclusivity in a world that more often than not, focuses on what ‘perfect’ should be.
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Known also by the psychodeum Kiker Chan, Nastya is a Russian model who actually has a condition called Albinism, where the body is unable to create the amount of melatonin needed to give colour to hair, eyes and skin. Characterised by extremely pale or even porcelain white features, it can be a condition that can be difficult to accept, but Nastya has proven that with or without skin pigmentation, you can achieve phenomenal success in the modelling world.
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Erika is an androgynous, Swedish model, who was the first woman to appear on both male and female model boards back in 2011, making her debut styled as a young Leonardo diCaprio. She models for both female and male ranges, became the face of Tom Ford’s male beauty line and also starred in the film “Below Her Mouth”. Erika, with her striking features and incredible bone structure, defies all sterotypical, modelling expectations – and we love her for it!
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Which are your favourite models taking the industry by storm?