Welcome to EcoSalon’s newest column: #NowWhat. Abbie Stutzer gives her take on news through a modern feminist lens. We hope you enjoy!
ColumnAllegations about sexism in the modeling industry are everywhere, but who is actually trying to solve this toxic problem?
Recently, Cara Delevingne, former international super model and all-around badass feminist, told the modeling industry to screw off and finally quit her six-year career.
While Delevingne’s grand exit isn’t all that shocking (she’s on to bigger and better things, and is currently building up an acting career and is dabbling in music), it’s her “exit interviews” that are raising the eyebrows of fans and fashion followers.
According to Jezebel, Delevingne suffered extreme stress while modeling. Not surprising, but it’s still rather upsetting that an incredibly successful model was still exposed to all the nasty criticism that seems to plague the industry. Jezebel reports that she suffered chronic stress that lead to psoriasis, a skin condition. The industry was not kind to this development: Delevingne said that “people would put on gloves and not want to touch me because they thought it was, like, leprosy or something.”
Sure, the above antidote is terrible, and no person should be expected to look perfect at all times, but it’s Delevingne’s condemnation of the industry’s overt sexism that really gets me riled up.
According to Jezebel, Delevingne was quoted, saying this about the industry: “I am a bit of a feminist and it makes me feel sick.” Jezebel reports that the former model was specifically referring to many of the sexually suggestive poses she had to execute through her career.
“‘It’s horrible and it’s disgusting. [We’re talking about] young girls. You start when you are really young and you do, you get subjected to… not great stuff.’”
While it’s no surprise that Delevingne isn’t pleased with the inherent sexism that’s in the modeling industry (she’s been a vocal advocate for gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ issues), it’s sad that more models don’t feel comfortable discussing this obvious issue.
The modeling industry has been a frequently reported cesspool of nastiness for some years now. The industry is well known for recruiting incredibly young girls and pressuring them to be as thin as possible.
And, yes, the industry has self-corrected a bit and is beginning to support women who do have diverse bodies, but there are inherent problems there, too. Sure, there are more plus-size women, women of color, and transgender people in big-time ad campaigns now, but their numbers, compared to conventional models, are still too small.
The industry needs to wake-up and realize that models are people. And people buy clothing. So, if you’re abusing and marginalizing the very women (and men) you’re using to sell your overpriced clothing, how much do you care about the consumer? To me, that answer is clear: you don’t care.
So, why do people still support companies that endanger models? Probably because consumers don’t know any better.
While the Internet is filled with modeling think-pieces and feminist manifestos about how the modeling industry is incredibly elitist and fucked, the everyday consumer probably won’t see the majority of these words – you have to be interested in the subject to care about it, really. And it’s for that reason that outlets like this one write about companies and organizations that embrace models who are different, and businesses that have strong ethics. As we’ve said before, we know that there should be a hell of a lot more companies hiring diverse models and making their corporate ethics policies public, but at least the following companies are making a conscious decision (even if it’s calculated to get good press) to hire people who are different, and take a stand against the corporate “norm.”
ModCloth: ModCloth is well known for selling plus-size clothing that is cute and fashionable. The company also uses plus-size models to exhibit the clothing, too. In addition, ModCloth also has pledged to not Photoshop its models, and the site is filled with women of various ethnic backgrounds.
IMG: This top modeling agency recently signed transgender model Hari Nef. Nef is now part of the company’s A-list roster.
Doobop: Sure, Cover Girl has signed plenty women of color to be the company’s cover girl, but the company isn’t breaking its back to create lines of makeup that are made for those women, either. That’s why companies, such as Doobop, are so important. The beauty company started in order to “create a chic online shopping destination that mirrored the ethnic diversity spotted daily on the streets of New York City.”
Also, we can’t help but mention that there are plenty of companies that are dedicated to treating the Earth and animals well. We know we’ve covered many of these companies at length on EcoSalon, but there’s a reason for that. We think that if you respect animals and the environment when you’re creating your clothing and building your brand, you probably respect the people who work at and represent your company, too. Read about companies that embrace sustainability and veganisim by giving the following pieces a read:
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Image of angry model from Shutterstock