Diversity Comes to Modeling

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“The New Frontier in the Industry”
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It doesn’t matter the decade in which you came of age. From the 1960s to fairly recently, almost all images of models, whether it was those in fashion catalogs all the way to those of men’s magazines, showed a very specific type of female paradigm. That woman was tall, very slender, sported the popular hairstyle of the era, as well as the preferred type of makeup and was the accepted form of “wholesome” that resonated with what Media Moguls felt the American Public wanted to see. And that was the way things were for many reasons both cultural and political too numerous and expansive to list or explore here. Looking back on the past is not what this article is meant to celebrate. It is the present and the future that are under the microscope here. But be it known that the shifts in demographics which began in the 1980s and accelerated through the 1990s and into the new millennium, helped to change the national consciousness and foster an acceptance of difference that has led to a whole new playing field in the Modeling Industry. Styles and appearances that once would have never been tolerated or encouraged are now fast becoming part of the mainstream. Some of these changes were long in the coming and needed to happen. Others are shifts of personal taste that help us raise the bar of acceptance even higher, showing a pluralism of societal multiplicity that few people in my generation ever thought we’d live to see.
The most obvious change in modeling diversity that has occurred was a shift that took longer to happen than it should have, that of opening the industry to persons of color. While the fashion world made occasional forays into non-white models in decades past and men’s magazines would explore a change in skin tone on rare occasions, the modeling industry was notoriously slow in representing the richly varied nature of the world population. And it is not perfect in its depictions as yet. But much progress has been made. Open any glamor magazine today and it is actually uncommon to see an all-Caucasian lineup of models. Almost always there will be girls from nearly all ethnic backgrounds that support and embrace glamor imagery. It is a change that needed to happen for many reasons. As a nation, America has been preaching tolerance and open-mindedness in schools for a long time. Beyond the fact that it was the enlightened, educated thing to do culturally, it is also the right choice economically. In today’s global economy, people want to support enterprises that are all-inclusive in nature. The days of models like Cheryl Tiegs being representative of the majority of male tastes are long over. The beauty of women crosses all racial lines. Making the shift to showcasing the pantheon of world ethnicity was a change that should have happened many years ago, but has finally become the norm in glamor imagery.
Most people are unaware of the reasons why models in the fashion pages had to and still often have to be quite tall and thin.
You can see more of this article in our March 2015 issue of ModelsMania
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