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11 Models That Are Redefining the Fashion Industry

Over the years, we have seen how the fashion industry has evolved. And with each passing decade, new design proposals arrive, and the perception of beauty standards is also transformed. We are increasingly realizing that true beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and those differences are what make us shine with our own light.

At Bright Side, we love reading the stories of people who not only dared to dream but went for it. Today, we want to share these powerful models who are leaving an important mark on their way through the runways and inspire us with their unique beauty.

1. Marsha Elle, bionic model

This model, singer, and songwriter is also a motivational speaker who inspires us all to pursue our dreams. Marsha Elle was born with a proximal femoral focal deficiency, a birth defect that caused her leg to fail to develop sufficiently, and as a result, her leg was amputated shortly after birth.

Growing up as an amputee, Marsha Elle went through a process of recognition and acceptance. She learned to put aside her insecurities and embrace her body, using her power to inspire others. In an industry like fashion, where everything comes down to looks, Marsha found a space to make a statement.

She has participated in several fashion campaigns, and one of her most recent appearances was as the face of the Adidas and Afropunk collaboration. She lets the world know that you shouldn’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, empowering others to be proud of their differences and love themselves.

2. Jillian Mercado, muscular dystrophy

Jillian Mercado has made a name for herself in the fashion industry. She is a model born in New York and raised by Dominican parents, and from a very young age, she developed a love for fashion. In her early teens, she was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Although there are some stigmas surrounding the industry, Jillian was eager to make a change in the inequality of opportunities for the disabled community.

She seeks to be more than a model, but a role model for those facing a similar situation. Her first big modeling job was with Diesel in 2014, followed by other campaigns for Nordstrom, Target, and once, she modeled for Beyoncé’s Formation world tour merchandise.

3. Melissa Koole, Autism

This model from Holland is not ashamed of letting the world know about her condition and is raising awareness of autism. Melissa Koole was diagnosed at the age of 19 with Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism that affects people’s social and communication skills.

Her career as a model was not easy at first due to her Asperger’s. But once she decided that her condition would not define her, she grew as a model, signing several fashion contracts around the world. Nowadays, she uses her platform to empower others for their individuality, personality, and diversity.

4. Kelly Knox, born without a left forearm

Whenever Kelly Knox walks down any catwalk, she inspires more than one person with her beauty. This British model became one of the first disabled models to star in Fashion Week. But her path to the catwalk was not easy, and it took her 11 years of battling prejudice to be where she is now. She was born without her left forearm and decided not to wear a prosthetic arm as an aid.

For models like Kelly Knox who have the courage to follow their dreams, brands like Tommy Hilfiger are changing the fashion game. Many brands are creating lines of adaptable clothing with one-hand zippers and magnetic buttons. This is increasing fashion designers’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

5. Ellie Goldstein, Down syndrome

After being the face of Gucci Beauty at just 18 years old, Ellie Goldstein has caught the world’s attention. This British model was born with Down syndrome and at a young age, she decided that she wanted a modeling career. Ellie signed her first contract at age 15 with an inclusive talent agency.

Her unique personality and beauty have given her the opportunity to star in campaigns for big brands like Nike, Primark, and Laura Mercier. Her mother has supported Ellie all along and together, they are taking the fashion industry by storm.

6. Viktoria Modesta, an amputated leg

Viktoria Modesta is synonymous with personality. She is not just a model but an artist and creative director who is enthusiastic about futuristic art and science. Viktoria was born with a limb malfunction and at the age of 20, she made the decision to amputate the lower part of her left leg. She defines herself as a bionic model and wears a prosthetic as an extension of her unique personality.

Viktoria wants to be able to tell a bigger story about identity. And that’s why she diversifies her talent in various artistic fields. Her fashion campaigns always make a statement and she is eager to revolutionize the industry not only because of her condition but because of her style.

7. Winnie Harlow, Vitiligo

This Jamaican-Canadian supermodel is taking the fashion world by storm. Winnie Harlow was born with vitiligo and at the age of 26, she worked alongside Victoria’s Secret and luxury brands, such as Fendi and Marc Jacobs. When she was young, she never really thought about a career in fashion, but after an interview with a Toronto photographer, Winnie was encouraged to make it in the industry.

She is focused on being true and authentic. Winnie doesn’t define herself as a role model, but instead, she keeps things real and wants to be known for her talent.

8. Moffy Gathorne, strabismus

Her unique feature is what makes her distinguishable and a true icon in fashion. Moffy Gathorne is a London-born model with strabismus, which causes her eyes to misalign. In 2013, she made her debut as a model on the cover of the POP magazine, and since then, she has been in the eye of fashion.

Moffy is proud of her lazy eye, and when she got the chance to have eye surgery, she declined it and decided to embrace her condition as part of her personality. She defines beauty as self-realization, knowing who you are and what you can achieve.

9. Melanie Gaydos, Marfan syndrome

Fashion stereotypes are being left behind, and Melanie Gaydos is making great steps toward beauty diversity. When she was born, Melanie was diagnosed with ectodermal dysplasia, a rare condition that occurs in 1 in every 10,000 births. This condition causes the teeth, pores, cartilage, nails, and bones to not fully develop.

After undergoing 30-40 surgeries, this model hasn’t let her condition stop her. Being aware of her uniqueness, she decided to pursue a career in fashion, becoming a unique, versatile, and creative model. Over time, Melanie made her own path and has walked several times in New York Fashion Week shows.

10. Carola Insolera, deaf

Carola Insolera is known for being the only deaf female model currently active in the fashion industry. This Norwegian model was born deaf and comes from a deaf family. Before becoming a model, she worked as a TV presenter, communicating in sign language. In addition, she worked in a circus as a trapeze artist, clown, and contortionist.

It was in 2011 that Carola was asked to give a show at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Since then, she has dedicated her life to working exclusively in the fashion industry. When it comes to communicating, she doesn’t use interpreters, instead, she uses a visual form of communication. Not letting her deafness keep her off the catwalk, Carola trusts her instincts and demonstrates her natural talent.

11. Alexandra Kutas, a wheelchair model

Alexandra Kutas is the first runway model in a wheelchair and the first Ukrainian model with a disability. During her birth, she suffered a spinal cord injury. However, this has not held her back, as she made a name for herself in fashion and is an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

It was at the age of 16 that she decided to become a model, and after being inspired by the stories of various disabled women from around the world, she felt that it was her time to make a change in the fashion industry. She made her first appearance in Ukrainian Fashion Week and since then, she has participated in catwalks on 3 different continents.

Alexandra is aware of the power of her voice and works for her community, encouraging companies to increase their services toward the inclusion of the disabled.

These women are a clear example that you can achieve anything as long as you have the courage to go after it. Do you have a dream job or a goal that you are currently working on to make possible? Share your stories with us in the comments and let’s hype each other up!

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