As somebody who loves fashion, I still think it’s important not to romanticise the fashion industry. There is no doubt that it is one of the most homogeneous and exclusive industries with the large majority of models being white, tall, skinny, and female. Of course, this is not representative of modern society, so whenever somebody in fashion escapes that “norm” and thinks outside the box, it’s pretty exciting.
Last week, internationally acclaimed modeling agency IMG signed Hari Nef, a 22-year old transgender model and artist who has walked at New York Fashion Week and describes her occupation as “doing things in front of people.” IMG Paris had previously signed transgender model Valentijn de Hingh, while size-22 model Tess Holliday covered People magazine last week, so one might get the impression that there is a shift in the fashion industry to be more accepting and more diverse.
While these few examples of successful models outside the “fashion-norm” are a step in the right direction, it’s the motivation behind these business decisions that potentially remain problematic; does IMG sign a transgender model because they think she has the same potential as every other model, or because they know it will get a lot of publicity? Will Tess Holliday on the cover of People magazine make designers think twice when booking size-0 models for their shows? Probably not.
Either way, it would be great to see Nef on more runways and in more magazines now that she is with IMG, but she does have a point when saying that “fashion is having a moment with trans aesthetics, not trans issues.” One can only hope that this “moment” triggers awareness and ultimately turns into acceptance and more inclusion rather than exclusion.
Image via independent.co.uk