So often at runway shows, everything is colorful — except the model herself. Instagram is trying to change that.
The photo sharing app has launched #RunwayForAll, a week-long hashtag initiative on its massively popular account (163 million followers) showcasing diverse models who are “redefining industry standards.”
Kicking off last Wednesday, the first model highlighted was Mama Cax, a 26-year-old Haitian model and cancer survivor whose leg was amputated at 14. The post garnered 730,000 likes and 4,000 positive comments from a supportive community.
“#RunwayForAll means any teenager feels represented when they open a magazine or watch a fashion show,” says Mama Cax (@caxmee). Mama grew up in Haiti, lives in New York City and never aspired to be a model — “not only because there were very few dark models on magazine covers but also because I grew up with very little knowledge of the fashion industry,” she says. “Eight years ago, after getting my leg amputated, the idea of being a model was even more far-fetched.” Today, Mama is modeling and doing other things that she was told there was no audience for, like sharing tips for traveling as a black female amputee. “The majority of humans do not look like the mainstream idea of beauty,” she says. “One of the greatest barriers is not belonging. Through modeling I hope to show that beauty does not always wear a size zero and beauty does not always walk on two limbs.” Every day this week, we’ll be sharing the story of a model who is redefining industry standards and making sure there’s room on the #RunwayForAll. Photo of @caxmee by @simonhuemaen
In a post today, Instagram chose Londone Meyers, a black model who blasted the fashion community’s celebration of white women’s’ hair. “Can you imagine if white models were made to perm their hair to achieve a completely different texture for every single shoot?,” she wrote in the post’s caption, which collected 750,000 likes in under an hour.
“Our goal is to highlight some of the bravest and most creative models on Instagram who are building their own audiences and telling their own stories,” Kristen Joy Watts, Instagram’s fashion and arts lead, recently told Refinery29. “These breakout stars aren’t conforming to the industry’s traditional mold, and in fact, are redefining it.”
The Facebook-owned app has become the go-to platform for fashion brands looking to keep tabs on trends and design ideas. Boohoo, for example, stocks its website depending on what’s being engaged with on Instagram. So it’s unlikely fashion houses will ignore the popular hashtag: Indeed, brands including H&M and Net-a-Porter are already featuring more diverse models of skin color and sizes.