Not too long ago, the modeling industry had very strict requirements for models. Being 5’8-5’9 for girls and a size 0-2 was seen as the typical model norm, which meant not too many people fit that standard or models would go to extremes to fit them. Crazy right? But as time has passed, we have started to see many changes in the modeling industry.
We are starting to see models outside of the old modeling standards, with rising plus size and petite modeling divisions. Another thing we are seeing are models with more of a toned and healthy look, instead of the frail and lanky look we were so used to seeing. But what has truly made a difference is that we are starting to see models with very unique looks, and even models with disabilities. I believe that these changes have been able to help other models enter the modeling industry and even encouraged designers and the fashion industry to want to use different models.
We see models like plus size model Ashley Graham, Winnie Harlow with a vitiligo skin condition, or model Madeline Stuart with down syndrome who have overcome the odds and are challenging the model norm. I find their stories and looks very inspiring. Each has truly made an impact in the modeling industry, and a shift in the right direction for all types of models wanting to enter the field.
Let’s look at Plus size model Ashley Graham, a size 16, 5’9” model, who was discovered in 2000 after attending a modeling convention, and signed with her first agency in 2001. Since then, she has worked with different agencies throughout the years as she learned the ropes and tried to make a name for herself in the industry. This led to her modeling breakthrough when she made headlines after appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue as the first plus size model to appear on this publication! This set her career, and now we see Ashley everywhere and we love it!
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She was recently made a judge for the must watch model show, Americas Next Top Model. Fun fact: Ashley had Tyra Banks as one of her mentors since 2013. Ashley Graham has continued to impress us by making big moves in the fashion industry overall. She designed a lingerie line for Addition Elle, a Canadian plus-size clothing retailer, and we have seen her in many catwalks shows and other big campaigns. Her big move this year has been being on the cover of Vogue magazine. Ashley continues to impress us, but most importantly she continues to motivate other plus size models to follow their dreams and has stayed true to herself.
Speaking of Tyra banks and her show Americas Next Top Model, our next model was discovered in cycle 21 of ANTM in 2014. Winnie Harlow did not win on the show, but she sure did win everyone’s attention with the beauty of her different and unique look. Winnie Harlow used to be bullied for her skin condition Vitiligo, which causes skin discoloration, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to be a model and go on the show of Americas Next Top Model. Winnie’s skin condition inspired many of her followers to copy her unique look on social media to show their support towards her.
We now see Winnie Harlow on various catwalks, magazine covers, music videos, commercials and the list goes on. Winnie Harlow made it worldwide, and is still fighting to make a difference in the modeling industry. Winnie once said, ” I want to see different faces on the covers of magazines, the stars of movies, featured on billboards… It’s time we open the market up and embrace people from all walks of life.” This 5’9” beauty wants to continue to motivate many aspiring models to follow their dreams and to never stop fighting for what they want.
It doesn’t end here!
One of my personal favorite models is Madeline Stuart. Madeline is a model with down syndrome but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion and even walking the New York Fashion Week catwalk twice! Madeline has always loved the fashion industry, and decided she wanted to become a model when she attended a fashion show. Madeline’s career began in 2015, when her mom created an online campaign to try to help her secure a modeling contract. This was a hit when she started gaining many followers on social media and was approached by a fitness-wear brand, Manifesta, and a handbag brand everMaya with modeling contracts.
We have seen Madeline grow in the last couple of years, landing spreads in fashion magazines such as Vogue, and being described as the world’s first professional model with Down syndrome. Madeline hasn’t stopped there! She has also launched her own clothing label, 21 reasons why, which now make her not only a model, but also a businesswoman! How incredible is that?! Madeline is showing other individuals with Down syndrome that it is ok to have your own hopes and aspirations and that your disability should not limit what you do in life. I am so excited to see what other amazing projects Madeline will do next and how many more models with disabilities will be entering the modeling world.
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We hope to continue seeing positive changes like these in the modeling industry. These amazing models have made a huge impact in the modeling industry and have opened the door to many aspiring models wanting to pursue this field. At Bella modeling school, we encourage all our students to embrace their unique looks or traits and set their own path when it comes to modeling. We work with aspiring models of all shapes and sizes, with unique looks and traits. I am excited for what each student will do with their platform and love seeing them grow with us.
Some examples of models attending Bella Modeling School that are fighting against the odds and pursuing their passion are Erick Mendoza, who was born with cleft palate, which has given him a unique look, and platform to inspire others born with cleft. Not only is he an amazing individual, but he is also very motivated to make an impact in the industry. Another one of our models is Ramcharan Kotapati, who is in a wheel chair. This is not stopping him! He gives it his all during the photo shoots and exercises done in class and it shows! I love seeing how motivated all of our models are to make a change in this modeling industry and most importantly, become an inspiration for others. Want to learn how you can get started in modeling and how to set yourself apart?
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Bella Men Student Erick Martinez
Bella Men Student Ramcharan Kotapati
Much Love and remember to always keep it bella!