Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Sunday 21 April 2019

8 models who are breaking fashion industry stereotypes


Share This Article:

Earlier this week, model Hanne Gaby Odiele announced that she was intersex. The model, who has walked for some of the biggest fashion houses in the world, including Prada, Chanel and Givenchy decided to go public in the hope of ending the stigma around inter-sexuality.

“At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this,” Odeile told USA Today.

Odiele is one of a growing number of models challenging conventions and promoting a more inclusive, diverse fashion industry. Here's a look at eight models who are also breaking boundaries in the fashion industry.

Ashley Graham 


American model Ashley Graham grabbed the world’s attention last year when she was the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

This isn’t the first time that Graham has made history. In January 2016, she became the first plus-size model to grace the cover of British Vogue. Talking about her size, she told Vogue: "Do I sometimes wish I were thinner? God, in the old days, absolutely I did, but now I feel that to lose weight would be disloyal to myself."

She also speaks at high schools in the US about body image issues, and gave a TEDx talk back in 2015, entitled ‘Plus Size? More Like My Size’.

Winnie Harlow


A photo posted by ♔Don Pablo♔ (@winnieharlow) on


22 year old Canadian Chantelle Brown-Young is more famously known as Winnie Harlow; she shot to fame after starring in cycle 21 of America’s Next Top Model.

Harlow was diagnosed with the skin condition vitiligo, which means that parts of her skin are affected by depigmentation, but she hasn’t let this get in the way of her career. As well as walking at fashion weeks, Harlow has been featured on the covers of major magazines including Elle Canada, Marie Claire and Wonderland.

Speaking about vitiligo, she told The Guardian: "If one day I’m all black I’m still a model. If one day I’m all white I’m still a model. I am not my skin. I am a model with a skin condition.”

Andreja Pejić


A photo posted by Andreja Pejic (@andrejapejic) on


Andreja Pejić is arguably the most famous transgender model in the world.

The Bosnian model was scouted when she was 16 years old. As a young androgynous model she walked for both men’s and women’s Jean Paul Gautier, and the Marc Jacobs men’s show. Pejić completed her transition in 2013, and has since gone on to be the first ever transgender woman to be profiled by US Vogue.

Pejić speaks openly about her transition, telling Vogue: “It would be lovely to live in a world where trans-female models were treated as female models, and trans-male models were treated the same as male models, rather than being a niche commodity.”

Hari Nef 


A photo posted by Hari Nef (@harinef) on


Hari Nef became the first ever openly transgender model to appear on the cover of a major British magazine, when she covered Elle in 2016.

She has walked for countless designers including Gucci, a brand which she is now one of the faces of alongside Florence Welch and Dakota Johnson, among others. She is also one of the stars in the new Loreal beauty campaign, which was debuted this month.

Nef is very open about her identity as a transgender woman. She calls herself an ‘accidental activist’ and wants people to look beyond her gender, telling Vogue: “Gender is whatever.”

Shaun Ross


A photo posted by Shaun Ross (@shaundross) on

African-American male model Shaun Ross is the first professional albino male model.

Ross has appeared in countless campaigns for some of the world’s biggest fashion magazines, including i-D, Another Man, British GQ and Italian Vogue. He also starred alongside Beyonce in the music video for her song ‘Pretty Hurts’, as well as Lana Del Rey’s video for ‘Tropico’.

As part of his work to end the stigma around being albino, Ross delivered a TEDx talk called “In My Skin I Win” in 2014. Ross told an albinism organisation: “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me because I don’t feel sorry for myself. I am extremely proud of myself and I wish everybody would be proud of themselves.”

Rebekah Marine


A photo posted by Rebekah Marine (@rebekahmarine) on


Rebekah Marine has a bionic arm as she was born without a forearm, but does not let this get in the way of her modelling career.

She has walked at New York fashion week multiple times and has been featured in major magazines, including Italian Vogue and Teen Vogue, as well as modelling for US company Nordstrom.

She is now the ambassador for Lucky Fin Project, a non profit organisation that helps children who have been born without arms. On her website, Marine says: “We should be celebrating uniqueness, not conforming to what the media thinks is beautiful."

Zach Miko


A photo posted by Zach Miko (@zachmiko) on


In 2016, Zach Miko became the first ever plus-size male model to be signed to major modelling agency IMG.

He came to prominence after being the first plus-sized man to model for US brand Target. There are very few male plus size models in the industry so Miko is definitely breaking boundaries.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Miko says: “Being a man of size, I never imagined for a minute that this would be a possible career."

Erika Linder 


A photo posted by Erika Linder (@richiephoenix) on


Erika Linder is a Swedish model, who is famous for her ‘androgynous’ look. She was one of the first models to be cast for both menswear and womenswear.

Linder didn’t initially intend to model as a man but one of her first ever jobs was to emulate a young Leonardo DiCaprio. She has appeared in campaigns for Tom Ford and Louis Vuitton, as well as walking in New York Fashion Week.

Linder likes to challenge the gender stereotypes in the fashion industry, telling Galore: “I like to play around and challenge myself and to see different results all the time. The fact that I’m doing both and get attention from it is the main reason I’m still in this industry.”

© 2019 is a website of BigChoice Group Limited | 201 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1JA | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974