Latinas know about the frustrations of underrepresentation in the fashion industry. Another truth, there’s plenty of Latinas who know about the industry’s complete lack of representation when it comes to them period. Afro-Latinas, curvey Latinas, indigenous ones, curly-haired ones and any other Latina who doesn’t have light colored, dolphin smooth skin on a straight-sized body know this to be true. The fashion industry likes its Latinas to be able to pass for, at the very least, racially ambiguous and Western European. In a world where, women of color, of size, body hair and substance are often cast to the side in preference for the industry’s one-track-mind push for models who are thin, blonde and chiseled, this mindset makes it hard to feel included in the fashion realm.
That’s where the latest Instagram platform comes in.
Inclus Models is a platform shooting to assist unsigned models with getting scouted by major agencies.
La’Shaunae Steward is the body positive activist and curve model behind the new brand that aims to promote and lobby for size diversity. Steward is a Black and body positive model, whose skin tone and size would be a rare sight to be seen on the runways of major fashion houses let alone those flocked to during the seasons of New York, Paris, or London Fashion Week. Like most women, and so many of us Latinas who fall outside of industry stereotypes of what a Latina can be, she understands personally that the fashion industry’s singular spotlight on straight-sized models can be ] damaging.
“Representation is so important. So many models are glamazons who are 5’7” or taller,” Steward explained in an interview about the industry’s lack of representation. “They have small waists and perfect thighs. [For plus-size models, they’re] a size 16 at the biggest. And these are the women ‘representing’ all fat women. I’m 5’3″ and bigger, [and I] also deserve the spotlight!”
Seeing a lack of diversity in the sizes and images being represented in the fashion industry, Stweard decided to launch Inclus Models in an effort to give other deserving women— both models and consumers—a chance.
“I’m over a size 20 and I’m 5’3”, but I work harder than a lot of models,” Steward shared in another interview before explaining that one of the biggest problems in the industry is that those models who have already been signed rarely think to fight for diversity at the agencies they work for. “They’re okay with how the world treats bigger people because they don’t have this issue,” she says. “Hopefully agencies will see this and realize how much of a change signing bigger models could be to not only them but to the fashion and modeling world.”
Since launching her platform last week, Steward says she’s already received almost over 80 submissions.
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The platform which has its home on Instagram features photos provided by models along with their social media handle and the agency that they hope to be placed with. So far the Inclus account has 36 posts, and images from models with an array of skin tones, shapes, heights and hair types. Barious Latinas and Latinxs have been featured on the site including model Karina Mia, curve model Mirko Enriquez, and Black model Ali.
It’s a pretty glorious and empowering sight to see.
Models interested in submitting to Inclus are required to send digitals with good lighting, plain colored backgrounds, photos taken from the waste and ones that feature your full body, as well as information that includes your name, age, and location. For more information look here.