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To the Modeling Industry: Race is Not Just a Fad

Every year, girl gangs all over the country come together to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show to rave about their favorite models.  Legendary household names like Gigi Hadid, Romee Strijid, and Martha Hunt strut down the stage. But has anyone ever noticed the lack of ethnic faces the show possess? Looking through the list of angels this year, there were few P.O.C (People of Color) such as, Jourdan Dunn and Jasmine Tookes. Where are the gorgeous Latinas, Asians, and Middle Eastern angels? Americans have been talking a lot about diversity and equality forever and although there has been change, it is frustrating at how little has actually been done and how long it has taken the country. Many say the model industry reflects exactly what change and regression has been made regarding race issues. Ethnic cultures may be reflected in some aspects of American fashion culture but more can be done. We are on the cusp of breaking through the ethnic barriers in the fashion industry.

There are so many questions (maybe naïve) that need to be answered in the P.O.C modeling industry. Why has the United States become so accepting of size but not race in fashion? Why has it taken us this long to have ethnic models show up more frequently in catalogs? How has the nation had our first black president and still not overcome racial discrimination? 80% of the model industry is caucasian (Vice News) and still we seem to be “overcoming” racial issues. 20% of the industry is black, latino, asian, and middle eastern? It’s surely progress from where the United States used to be but there is still a lack of high demand for ethnic cultures. 

After reading over several interviews, many P.O.C models in the fashion industry have been told they are “too ethnic” or have felt as if their race was a trend at one time. Ethnicity is not a trend. America has been through phases of these “trends” such as Americana, Street Style, and the Indian Bohemian look. New York fashion industry sits on the fact they are more sophisticated and knowledgeable then most but think this is a get-out-of-jail free card from being non inclusive.

The fashion industry is not all super negative concerning race  because a lot of progress has been made. Society is starting to not care about finding the “perfect look”  and seek out for more unique models with traits such as tooth-gaps, skin imperfections and various sizes. More modeling agencies exclusively  helping P.O.C in the industry are popping up and gaining strength. Many clothing lines appealing to certain races are finally being put in designer fashion shows.

Fashion has definitely made advancements in putting people of all nationalities, shapes, and sizes and this is something we should be really proud of. However, society should be angry at how long it has taken for this change to happen and progress. It’s wonderful to see how far we have come but this is an issue that needs to continue to have attention brought to it.

––Olivia Falcone

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