Instagram’s #RunwayForAll champions diversity in fashion

Over the past week Instagram’s account has highlighted five of the biggest champions for fashion diversity in the business. Their new initiative #RunwayForAll was created to shine a light on the diverse models making an impact on the industry.

Instagram’s goal was to expose some of the bravest models on their photo-sharing site. Over time these daring models have built huge audiences, who believe change within the fashion industry is needed. These models are not conforming to the norm; they are breaking away from convention, something people are hungry to see.

Their Stories

Each of the five models were asked to tell their stories, explaining why they decided to step into the fashion industry. In an industry with very narrow ideals, this was a brave leap for these five individuals, who were courageous enough to expose their uniqueness in a particularly judgmental industry.

 Photo of @caxmee by @simonhuemaen Via @Instagram
Photo of @caxmee by @simonhuemaen Via @Instagram

 The first model to be celebrated by #RunwayForAll was Mama Cax (@caxmee), a blogger and freelance model who lives in New York. At the age of 18 she had her leg amputated and the idea of modelling seemed totally far-fetched. However, her desire to encourage all women to feel good about themselves, led her to where she is today. “Through modelling I hope to show that there is beauty in all body types. Beauty does not always wear a size 0 and beauty does not always walk on two limbs” she said. Cax wants every girl to feel represented within the fashion industry, something she did not feel as she grew up in Haiti.

Shaun Ross Photo by @shuandross #RunwayForAll via @Instagram
Shaun Ross Photo by @shuandross #RunwayForAll via @Instagram

Shaun Ross (@shaundross) a male albino model was the first male model of colour with albinism. He has a desire to create a world in which everyone is treated the same, and “now here we are almost 10 years later, and I see the choice I’ve made has helped the industry to see beauty in many different ways, such as casting models and rising icons like @winnieharlow, @jilly_peppa and more to help lead the fight with me to diversity,” he said.

Photo of @bonjourclem by @emmaandhercamera via @instagram #RunwayForAll
Photo of @bonjourclem by @emmaandhercamera via @instagram #RunwayForAll

Clémentine Desseaux (@bonjourclem) a French plus-size model who was inspired to start modelling after seeing the first plus size models, believes that fashion should not just be about the way we look, but also about what we represent. “My size and look were in the way of me feeling invincible when I was young,” she says. “I hope I was the last generation of women to think like that. Role model is the new top model.”

Photo of @londonemyers via @instagram #RunwayForAll
Photo of @londonemyers via @instagram #RunwayForAll

Londone Myers (@londonemyers) a model from Georgia, now living in New York. As she grew up she felt that her image was not represented within the fashion industry. Her desire to model came from a need to show that she was beautiful in her own right and to encourage other women to feel beautiful in their natural body. “Finally, society is embracing us for how we are,” she said.

Photo of @jilly_peppa via @instagram #RunwayForAll
Photo of @jilly_peppa via @instagram #RunwayForAll

Jillian Mercado (@jilly_peppa) a model and creative director with muscular dystrophy felt isolated by the fashion industry when growing up as she thought her disability would restrict her from being part of that world. “When you want something to be done, you might as well do it yourself. I’m basically being the role model that I was looking for when I was a young girl,” she said. Through her determination to reach her goals she has proven that a disability is not a barrier to fashion and was chosen to be the face of Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ collection of t-shirts and sweaters.

What all these individuals have in common is that they did not give up, they did not let prejudices stand in their way of achieving something they have always dreamed of or felt isolated from.

Leading the change to diversity

As a collective models, such as those celebrated by Instragram’s intiative #RunwayForAll, are leading the charge on creating a more diverse fashion industry. The more we are exposed to their stories and their images, the more accepting as a society we will become.

These models do not conform to the fashion industry’s ideals, they break the mould and are proud to stand out from the crowd. Through their work they are helping to redefine the fashion industry, pulling it inline with the diverse world in which we all live.

What do you think about Instagram’s latest initiative, #RunwayForAll? Will it make the impact desired?  


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