One Small Step for Revlon, One Slightly Larger Step for Modelkind

It’s no secret that the fashion world is in dire need of diversifying its talent. It’s imperative that brands work towards including more models who aren’t your “industry standard,” and not in a way that feels as though it’s an awkward attempt to roll with the so-called trends – this isn’t a trend. That means more non-white, plus size, disabled, transgender or gender nonconforming models, and not just for the season. The list is as long as there are variations of human beings, and all of them should be able to see positive representations of themselves within the media.

Look at companies like H&M or Wycon and it’s not hard to see what happens when a company gets it seriously wrong, ending up on the bad side of their customers. Both were recently in the news due to major misjudgements that received worldwide backlash. H&M for the heavily inappropriate “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie they placed on a young black boy (whilst his white counterpart was branded a “Jungle Survival Expert”), and Wycon for a black nail varnish they named “Thick as a N****.” Mistakes so undeniably offensive, so ridiculously baffling it makes you wonder just how these ideas made it through the wringer. How many of these shocking blunders could have been avoided with something as simple as having a more racially diverse workforce to educate the team? It all comes down to a lack of understanding of the experiences and struggles of others, and that can only be remedied by including those individuals in the conversation. How else are you to know the needs and desires of those different from yourself? Our power as consumers is that we get to be the driving force behind the products we see around us and the notions that those products promote. Brands need to understand that as their audience changes, so must they. It’s simple, adapt or face desertion.

Changes have gradually been made over the years, but we still have a long way to go! Fortunately, Revlon have chosen to be part of the solution and have hired plus size model Ashley Graham as their latest brand ambassador. This will be her debut beauty campaign and a welcome continuation of her recent success, which includes multiple magazine covers and her position as a judge on the iconic show America’s Next Top Model. She will join fellow models Achok Majak, Rina Fukushi, Adwoa Aboah, Imaan Hammam, Raquel Zimmermann and Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot for Revlon’s Live Boldly campaign, which hopes to “empower women through community building, catalytic experiences and inspiring conversations”.

Following the announcement, Graham commented:

“I am thrilled to be part of this timely and ground-breaking campaign with different types of women across races, ages and sizes, and to leverage this platform to continue to create positive change. To Live Boldly is the mantra of my life. Every day in the mirror I say to myself, ‘I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful,’ and together with Revlon, we can inspire all women to do the same.”

It’s amazing to see models like Graham breaking new ground and bringing light to the issues that matter, especially in an environment that still isn’t particularly accepting of them. The more we talk about diversity, both within fashion and society in general, the more we all learn to accept and celebrate our differences. Hopefully we’ll continue to see prominent brands and their representatives working to promote more inclusivity across the board – perhaps then the rest of the world will follow suit.

Author: Charmaine Musonza