For years, the modeling industry was homogeneous, only showing models with absolutely no diversity. Tall, skinny and perfect, they almost all look the same. However, as the years go by, the standards of beauty has slightly shifted, and more diverse models have been inspiring people to be confident. Here is a list of 10 unique and inspiring models who have challenged beauty standards.
10. Ashley Graham
The American model Ashley Graham has proved that size might not matter in the modeling industry. She has been feature in many magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour. Not only has she spoken about body acceptance and confidence at high schools, she also participates in humanitarian mission with the Themba Foundation.
9. Nyakim Gatwech
Born in South Sudan, Nyakim Gatwech has been an inspirational figure to many. With more than 431K followers on Instagram, the dubbed ‘Queen of Dark” uses it to post about body positivity and encourages fans to embrace their bodies and skin color and self acceptance.
Back in March, she talked about how during an Uber ride, her driver asked: “Don’t take this offensive but if you were given 10 thousand dollars, would you bleach your skin for that amount?” To which she replied, laughing hard, “Why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God bless with me?” She also added, “You won’t believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin.”
8. Jillian Mercado
Born April 30, 1987 in New York City, Jillian Mercado was diagnosed at a young age with spastic muscular dystrophy and was in wheelchair by the age of 3. When she first started thinking seriously about becoming a model, she searched the web for someone in the modeling world who looked like her, only for the results to come up empty.
Mercado studied fashion marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In 2011, she featured in her first campaign, for designer Denim’s brand Diesel and then signed with IMG Models. She starred in several campaigns for Nordstrom and former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book, photographed by Michael Avedon. In 2016, she was announced as one of three models to appear in the latest campaign for Beyonce’s official website, promoting merchandise for the singer’s new single and 2016 Formation world tour. Since then, she appeared in Glamour and Cosmopolitan magazines and was on the cover of Posture magazine.
7. Alex Minsky
Alex Minsky is a retired Marine Corporal, 28 year old model. After hitting a bomb while on his first tour of Afghanistan in 2009. He spent days in a coma because of a brain injury and had his right leg amputated. After the death of his brother due to drug overdose, Minskey himself entered a long period of abusing drugs.
He turned to physical fitness in order to stop using drugs and was approached by a fashion photographer. He, then has been featured in magazines and is the brand ambassador for LiveFit.
6. Andreja Pejic
Born in Australia, Andreja Pejic is a 25 year old Australian model. She was the first completely androgynous supermodel. Also, she’s one of the world’s most famous transgender models.
She was scouted while working at Mcdonald’s. Pejic was ranked on the models.com’s Top 50 Models list, as well as appeared on catwalks and in magazines. She is also the world’s first transgender model profiled by Vogue.
5. Madeline Stuart
Upon visiting a fashion show with her mother in 2014, Madeline decided she wanted to become a model. Since then, she has been described as the world’s first professional model with Down syndrome. She has launched her own clothing label called 21 Reasons Why.
Her career began in 2015, when her mother, Rosanne Stuart started an online campaign for her daughter to secure a modeling contract. Which led to Madeline having a large online following and signing two modeling contracts, one with Manifesta and other everMaya.
4. Jamie Brewer
Jamie Brewer, aged 32, is an actress and a model. She was the first woman with Down syndrome to walk down a catwalk at New York Fashion Week in February of 2015. She was also the youngest person to be elected President of the ARC of Fort Bent Chapter.
Brewer inspires people of all ages. She is a role model to young women. Brewers encourages them to being who they are and showing who they are.
3. Winnie Harlow
Chantelle Brown-Young, known as Winnie Harlow, was born on July 27, 1994 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. At the age of four, she was diagnosed with vitiligo, chronic skin condition, characterized by depigmentation of portions of the skin. Because of that, she was a victim of bullying that led her to change schools multiple times and dropping out of him eventually and even contemplating suicide.
She was discovered by Tyra Banks on Instagram. She than participated in America’s Next Top Model’s twenty first cycles; where she was eliminated in the second week of finals. After that, she became the brand representative for Desigual. She modeled for the brand Ashish, fashion magazines like; i-D and Dazed. She also modeled for Diesel, the Italian and Spanish edition of Glamour, and was featured in two issues of Cosmopolitan and many others.
In July 2011, she posted a video on Youtube called “Vitiligo: A Skin Condition, not a Life Changer”. She was presented with the ‘Role Model’ award at the 2015 Portuguese GQ Men of The Year event. She has also appeared in many music videos.
2. Shaun Ross
Shaun Ross is a 26 years old American model. He is known as being the first male albino model. He is of African-American descent and had to deal with discrimination for being albino throughout his life.
Ross has worked with top designers. He was features in many campaigns and runway shows. He also has appeared in music video with Beyonce, Katy Perry, and Lana Del Rey.
1. Melanie Gaydos
Melanie, an art graduate in New York City, responded to a Craigslist ad asking for unique people to fashion photographers to shoot. Due to a rare genetic disorder called ectodermal dysplasia, which has prevented her teeth, pores, nails, cartilage and bones from developing. Gaydos also has alopecia. She is partially blind, after the growth of her eyelashes scratched her eyes. She has rejected enhancements like dentures and wigs.
During her career, she has worked with photographers including; Eugenio Recuenco, and has since modeled for i-D, Galore, and Love magazines and has more than 190K followers on Instagram.