The world today can often seem over-saturated with flawless faces and bodies. Each time we log onto our social media we are bombarded with countless photos, posts, and advertisements that feature impeccable beauty. However, there is a silver lining, people all over the world have started using their platforms in a positive way, to inspire those with imperfections (which contrary to popular belief – is all of us) to be proud of who they are. Here are five role models who are changing the fashion industry with their refreshing outlook.
Carrie is a self-proclaimed “activist, entrepreneur, designer and feminist”, who is the inspiring founder of her own clothing brand named after herself. The focus of Carrie Hammer, the brand, is to empower women both inside and outside their workplace by dressing them for their everyday lives. Carrie created a fashion show with a twist to display her fashion line, called “Role Models not Runway Models™”. The idea behind it was that Carrie did not think it was appropriate to cast traditional models for her runway when the clients that she was aiming her products at were imperfect, inspiring women who aren’t likely to relate to models. Carrie Hammer made a difference by including real everyday women on her runway such as executives, activists and creative directors.
Carrie is often recognised as the starter of the body positivity movement in the fashion industry. She has worked with multiple brands such as Dove and not used a single professional model in her shows. This new and unconventional way of casting everyday women to be models could change the industry in multiple ways. Giving me and many others hope that the fashion industry will one day improve, and all women will be represented equally no matter what their weight, age, or race is. A significant lack of representation has been an ongoing issue in the fashion industry since it emerged. By starting this movement, Carrie Hammer is helping make the change that has been needed for years.
Ashley Graham is a 32-year-old model, author, designer and a strong believer in using her platform to change the fashion industry. She has been modelling from the age of 13 and as her career grows, she does everything in her power to support inclusivity. Ashley had often struggled in the modelling world due to her size, however, she continued to pursue her dreams and is now very successful in the industry. Her career flourished when she became the first curvy model on Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue 2016, leading to her platform growing and obtaining over 10 million followers on Instagram.
She has decided to use her presence on social media as an opportunity to connect with women with no restrictions. She posts real, unedited photos of herself which aim to challenge the fashion industry. Her goal is for size diversity to become the norm, and for more quality garments to be available for curvier women as often designer brands do not cater for bigger sizes. In 2019, when she announced her pregnancy, rather than creating an illusion of the perfect body, Ashley was truthful with her Instagram followers and documented her journey with frequent unedited photos of her changing body. She chose not to hide her body, embracing maternal fashion and finding outfits that enhanced her figure, refusing to be ashamed of the changes that were happening. As a result, more women are becoming confident in who they are and choosing to express themselves through fashion. She has also played a big part in reshaping the industry, making curvy models the norm rather than the exception.
Charli Howard is another extremely inspiring woman whose mission is to make a change in the industry. She is a model, activist and author who is focused on spreading her message of body acceptance and positivity. Charli sets herself apart from other influencers in many ways; her journey with the body positivity movement began when one of her posts about the lack of diversity in the fashion industry went viral in 2015. Four years later she started a podcast called “Fashion Fix” which discusses the ongoing issues that are persisting in the fashion industry, from body diversity to sustainability.
Charli has found that since her podcast began, radical changes are being made as people’s eyes are finally being opened to the issues in the industry. Brands are now being questioned if they are not using a range of models of different races and sizes. It is no longer acceptable to only show one type of woman; white and skinny. The growth of social media has made it easier than ever for brands to be made responsible for their actions. Charli encourages her followers to use their voices on social media to inform brands when they aren’t using their platforms correctly. Additionally, she gives a voice to those who have suffered from the effects of fast fashion, for example by interviewing an ex-child factory worker. By doing this she has encouraged many of her listeners to start choosing more sustainable, eco-friendly brands that aren’t harmful.
Gabi is a well-known body positive influencer who has accumulated nearly 800,000 followers on Instagram. She gained the majority of her following through her blog where she stands up for plus-size women, stating that they should wear whatever they please without worrying about society’s pressure to be perfect. She is a strong believer that items like crop tops and bikinis can be worn by women of all sizes and has been blogging about this topic since 2008. When she first started out, body positivity was not a trending topic on social media, however, this didn’t stop Gabi from embracing her body and encouraging others to do the same. The industry now has finally begun to listen to what Gabi has been saying for years, by creating more inclusive clothes.
Gabi believes that we should all love our bodies, no matter how big or small. She found purpose in creating a community using her social media, a place where women can share their confidence and fashion tips with each other, allowing them to radiate. Recently, she created her own lingerie line with Playful Promises. This allowed her to create pieces that she believed any woman would feel confident and beautiful in. She used her own experiences to create her designs, for example, she found that often lingerie for plus-sized women was beige, boring, and lacked creativity. She therefore decided to make her line filled with diverse, colourful designs, all different from one another, allowing women to express themselves no matter what their size is.
Emily is a model and another body positivity activist. Her passion for body acceptance began with her own issues which stemmed from modelling. She has had a difficult relationship with her body due to the constant pressure that hangs over the industry. Emily had to take a break from modelling to focus on herself and understand that she had an unhealthy relationship with herself. After this break, she decided to use her platform to make a change and make others aware of the issues that are prevalent in the industry. Emily holds a strong belief that the fashion industry must start being more accepting and representing.
She spreads her message daily on Instagram, making various real, eye-opening posts about the industry, her journey with self-acceptance and other important issues. By being so open about her personal struggles Emily has managed to gain over 150,000 loyal followers on Instagram who are keen to listen to her insight into current issues. She is a role model for many who struggle with body image due to her honesty making a large impact. With each supportive post, she helps another woman gain self-confidence.
We are all equal
All these women have one thing in common, they are trying to make a difference. They are courageous and will do anything to get their message across; we are all equal and the fashion industry should represent this. The fashion industry has already started majorly changing since these women and many others have spoken up, hopefully, one day we will no longer have to fight for body positivity, and it will become integrated into our lives.