Instagram’s official account is helping to continue a conversation about fashion diversity, that was initially spearheaded by Bethann Hardison, Naomi Campbell, and Iman among other legendary black talents.
The social media giant rolled out #RunwayForAll, a new project that celebrates diversity in fashion. Everyday Instagram shares an “unconventional” model’s story on its official page, which boasts over 162 million followers.
So far, Instagram has used the hashtag to introduce Mama Cax, a Haitian-born model and amputee, who lives in New York City, and Shaun Ross, a model with albinism who has been outspoken about his condition and provided support to others both in the United States and in Africa.
“#RunwayForAll means any teenager feels represented when they open a magazine or watch a fashion show,” says Mama Cax (@caxmee). Mama grew up in Haiti, lives in New York City and never aspired to be a model — “not only because there were very few dark models on magazine covers but also because I grew up with very little knowledge of the fashion industry,” she says. “Eight years ago, after getting my leg amputated, the idea of being a model was even more far-fetched.” Today, Mama is modeling and doing other things that she was told there was no audience for, like sharing tips for traveling as a black female amputee. “The majority of humans do not look like the mainstream idea of beauty,” she says. “One of the greatest barriers is not belonging. Through modeling I hope to show that beauty does not always wear a size zero and beauty does not always walk on two limbs.” Every day this week, we’ll be sharing the story of a model who is redefining industry standards and making sure there’s room on the #RunwayForAll. Photo of @caxmee by @simonhuemaen
“#RunwayForAll is a world where everyone is treated the same,” says Shaun Ross (@shaundross). When he started modeling nearly a decade ago, Shaun was the only male model of color with albinism. “I remember when I first entered the industry all I saw were models that looked the same,” he says. “Now here we are almost 10 years later, and I see the choice I’ve made has helped the industry to see beauty in many ways, such as casting models and rising icons like @winnieharlow, @jilly_peppa and more to help lead the fight with me to diversity.” When he started, Shaun was one of a few openly gay models in the industry. “Agents always told male models to be masculine, but that was never the case for me. I never wanted to hide my sexuality,” he says. “I’d rather be myself.” Photo by @shaundross
Plus-size model Clémentine Desseaux (@bonjourclem) will be featured with the hashtag today, followed by Black model Londone Myers (@londonemyers) on Thursday, and Jillian Mercado (@jilly_peppa), a model and editor with muscular dystrophy, on Friday.
Of course this isn’t the first time Instagram has been used to celebrate and push for diversity in the fashion. Followers have used and continue to use #BlackModelsMatter and #NYFW4All.