WOMEN BREAKING BOUNDARIES IN FASHION
BY KATE YACULA
We live in a world today, where over the decades, ideals of beauty have been attractively packaged and delivered to us by influencers and companies. We have been told what beauty is, what it should be, and we have begun to believe it. So why is there only a shocking 4% of women around the world who consider themselves beautiful? Global research conducted by our friends at Dove, revealed that women generally agree about there being something beautiful about each and every woman; however, they do not see their own beauty. This pre-packaged view causes conflicting opinions of what beauty is, a concept which is in serious need of change. Fortunately, today’s digital age has created a convenient platform for women to empower their peers, build confidence and boost others' self-esteem. The face of the fashion world is being altered by women brave enough to break the beauty boundaries and shatter all of the outdated expectations. That’s just the way we like it!
So let’s get to it and meet my A-team.
Harlow, by birth Chantelle Brown-Young, was born with an incurable skin pigmentation disease called Vitiligo that causes colourless patches to develop on a persons body. Throughout Harlow’s childhood, she was constantly bullied for her appearance, being called names like “cow” and “zebra”. This was a very difficult time for Harlow and she was forced to drop out of high school; however, even in our darkest moments we see glimpses of light that lead us to some serious inner strength. Things turned around drastically when Harlow was introduced to lifestyle personality/coach Shannon Boodram, who gave her a big push of confidence to attack her modelling career. Next, with some help from her friends, “Insta tagging” Tyra Banks in literally all of her photos, Harlow was cast in Season 21 of America’s Next Top Model. This was major for her. Harlow was then featured in several ad campaigns for Diesel and Desiugal. She rocked the covers of Glamour, Marie Claire and Elle Magazines, and basically took over social media. To sum things up, the internet loved her! Today, her reach is huge. Harlow has over a million followers who adore her, but also respect and admire her boldness and bravery to change beauty standards. Harlow is a true queen, and we can’t wait to see more!
U.S. born, Nebraska raised Ashley Graham is making waves, and curves, in the fashion world. Not just as a Model but also as a Designer, Author and Body Activist; though things weren't always so easy.
At 10 years old, Graham had the body of a 25 year old which attracted a lot of sexual attention from older men. She experienced an uncomfortable physical interaction with a male family friend which she references in her book, A New Model, which brought her to the acute realization of how she was highly sexualized by men. Graham speaks to the fact that she sought out self-love and acceptance through men because of all these experiences. She also attributes a lot of how she was shaped as a woman to her father who name called her as a child. All this led Graham to her strong level of self-awareness. She was quoted in an ET Online interview saying “just because you have a bad experience with somebody in your home growing up, doesn't mean it's gonna carry over into your real life.” Graham refers to her early life coming to a point of “self-evaluation” where she realized she wanted to be a role model for all women for positive body image and self-worth.
Graham, currently represented by IMG models, has appeared in Levi campaigns, YM Magazine and the sultry Sports Illustrated Swim Issue. She has also appeared on many shows including Entertainment Tonight and NPR to promote a positive body image. Graham even has her very own Barbie Doll, which was created in her image. She did not in any way compromise on its appearance, staying true to the curves and “no and’s, if’s, or butts” about having absolutely no thigh gap. Seriously, you go girl, we love you!
A study done in Britain (2015) showed that women in their 50’s were spending the most money on beauty products. This rise was attributed to the increase of the mature make-up and skincare models. Companies like L’Oreal and NARS have featured actresses like Tilda Swinton, 53 and Helen Mirren, 69. I want to talk about one of these incredible women, Canadian born, Maye Musk. Musk’s modelling career spans over five decades, currently represented by IMG Models- worldwide to boot! Musk booked a big campaign with CoverGirl recently, and is showing no plans of slowing down. Musk isn’t just a beauty, she’s also a serious science fanatic with the goods to back it up: two Masters of Science degrees. She’s also been a Registered Dietician Nutritionist for 45 years and has her own nutrition business. Her business brings her the most fulfillment, along with her ten grandchildren, who keep her quite busy! Musk has elegantly shown us how age is just a number. You won't be surprised to find out that her favourite hashtag is #justgettingstarted!
We’ve been buying into this essentially unattainable ideal of beauty for far too long. Fashion is inclusive, and should always aim to make people feel comfortable in their own skin and truly love who they are. We all have flaws. We’ve been through personal and professional struggles. Thanks to all these amazing female role models, woman are inspiring the hell out of each other, and are even finding the magic in surprising and empowering themselves.