The message conveyed by Models of Diversity (M.O.D.) is self explanatory.
Founded by Angela Sinclair, this model turned activist is using her influence to empower women and men in believing in themselves and not allowing the fashion industry to put them into a box. M.O.D. advocates for more diversity in models, and demands that the fashion and marketing industries recognize the beauty in women of all races, ages, shapes, sizes and abilities. They are on the front line of the fight against discrimination in fashion as they sponsor modeling workshops for people with disabilities, campaign against the tragic effects of the size zero culture, and fight inequality in the representation of real men and women.
As they prepare to host a fashion show during London Fashion Week 2011 for plus sized women, they took time to give us a glimpse in the great work that they are doing in the United Kingdom.
Tell me about Models of Diversity (M.O.D.)?
Models of diversity has been running for almost 3 years founded by Angel Sinclair. Being a former model herself she wanted to see a change in the industry. We are campaigning for more diversity on the catwalk, TV and media. This would encompass race, shape, size, models of color and abilities.
Why is there a need for such an organization?
When we look at the fashion industry, all we see is size zero models more often than not with pale white skin. Most people cannot relate to models of this body type. This in turn can cause problems such as depression, eating disorders, lack of self-esteem and the feeling of being under constant pressure. Many women and men struggle with trying to stay slim or being a size zero and I often receive emails from plus size woman afraid of leaving their homes due to being insulted. I talk to young people and what they believe is the perfect body, how much pressure they feel to look a certain way. This is often very worrying and it needs to change for their future. I believe an organization like M.O.D. will help bring about these much needed changes.
How important is diversity in the modeling and fashion industry?
Extremely for many very valid reasons. Many malnourished young people with eating disorders are being admitted to clinics on a daily basis. According to the British Medical council there has been a growth in eating disorders amongst young people due to the media being obsessed with abnormally thin models. We are campaigning for more realistic body types to be shown. The worrying size zero models are not our only concern. Another of our concerns is many people who feel pressure to have a paler shade of skin. Some will go to the extreme lengths of bleaching their skin. This can be a dangerous practice in the long-term; this may not be as much of an issue if there were more models of color and race visible in the fashion world. The world we live in has a variety of beauty whether it is the color of our skin, our shape or our ability so why not show these in the fashion world so we can all relate.
Does your message only apply to those in the modeling and fashion industry?
No not at all, I reach out to teenagers on the importance of eating well and staying fit and healthy. It’s important that they have self-confidence and realize beauty comes in all varieties and they are to make the most of what they have whatever their shape, race, ability or what they believe to be an imperfection.
What type of feedback have you received thus far?
Positive… The shows such as Oxford Fashion Show, Styled and Frocked show for the charity Tree of Hope have been an amazing success. We are contacted by members of the public with their stories and support. We have over 5000 supporters and followers on line whether it be Twitter, Facebook or You Tube. We also have hundreds and hundreds of supporters of the campaign across Europe and in our Australian group.
What is the biggest challenge about spreading your message?
The way the fashion industry only promotes size zeros only is shocking. Designers are able to make a change but refuse too. They often use plus size models as a gimmick. We are trying to spread the message to designers who feel there is no need for change. There is hope with designers such as Mark Fast. It is believed that if we were to have plus size models on the catwalk it would increase our obesity problem. This needs to be proved wrong, we need to promote shape and wellness.
Who have you partnered with to spread your message and what can we expect in the future?
We have partnered with the British fashion council and other small agencies. More diversity fashion shows are our biggest goal. We aim to run a fashion show alongside London fashion week.