It's less than a month until the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show where we'll see a string of 20 to 30-something flawless size-zeros sauntering up the runway, legs up to the sky, hair long and perfect; the image of societal beauty standards. And yet, beauty comes in all different forms. In this day and age, the Victoria's Secret image is quickly becoming outdated, and we're looking at a future of diverse faces and bodies across magazines and fashion shows.

Winnie Harlow at the 2018 MTV VMAs / Photo Credit: NYKC/FAMOUS

Winnie Harlow at the 2018 MTV VMAs / Photo Credit: NYKC/FAMOUS

Here are 13 models who are defying the beauty standards of the fashion industry:

1. Winnie Harlow

This Canadian model is Victoria's Secret's first effort in embracing diversity as she was recently made one of their "Angels". Winnie has Jamaican heritage, which makes the fact that she was born with vitiligo - a condition where the skin gradually loses pigment - all the more obvious. She was bullied terribly at school for her uneven skin, but she sure showed them when she appeared on America's Next Top Model at just 20-years-old. Now she's signed with Women Management and speaks publicly on her condition.

2. Khoudia Diop

Senegalese beauty Khoudia Diop calls herself the Melanin Goddess on account of her breathtakingly dark skin tone - and what a goddess she is! She was also bullied as a child, until she moved to Paris as a teenager and was encouraged to take up modelling. She signed with The Colored Girl Project in 2016 and last year even appeared in a campaign for Make Up For Ever.

3. Melanie Gaydos

Life hasn't been easy for this American model. She was born with a rare genetic disorder called ectodermal dysplasia which has led to a lack of hair, abnormal tooth and fingernail growth, a craniofacial disorder, a cleft palate, partial blindness, uneven skin tone, and even a lack of sweat glands. But that has not slowed her down in any way.

She had a tough childhood dealing with abuse in her family and later abusive relationships, but now she's a modelling superstar and has even appeared in movies such as 2015's Lost Penny, 2017's Dressed as Girl and Insidious: The Last Key this year.

4. Shaun Ross

He's widely credited as the first albino professional model and he's been in the industry since he was 16. His early life was difficult, growing up in the Bronx as an African-American with white skin, but since then he has gone on to model for the likes of Alexander McQueen and Givenchy; appeared in magazines like Paper, GQ and Vogue; and starred in music videos like Katy Perry's E.T., Beyoncé's Party, and Lana Del Rey's short film Tropico - not to mention a recurring appearance in TV series The Man in the High Castle.

He's also pansexual and funds the LGBT campaign Free to Be Me, he dances in New York's underground ballroom scene and he even released his first single last year entitled Symmetry. So multi-talented!

5. Madeline Stuart

21-year-old Madeline from Brisbane, Australia is the world's first professional supermodel born with Down syndrome and has walked at New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and London Fashion Week multiple times. She even has her own clothing range called 21 Reasons Why and was photographed for Vogue magazine.

6. Rain Dove

Yes, that was the fabulous name they were born with! Rain is as gender non-conforming as they come; born female, they endured cruelty at school by those who nicknamed them "Tranny Danny" thanks to their more masculine features. They prefer neutral pronouns and have modelled for both womenswear and menswear in the past. They are currently dating activist Rose McGowan and call themselves a "gender capitalist".

7. Valentina Sampaio

This transgender model and actress from Brazil became the first trans woman ever to appear on the cover of any edition of Vogue when she featured in Vogue Paris in March 2017. She's also featured on Elle and Marie Claire - what's more, magazine editorials don't generally only focus on her life as a trans woman, which breaks new ground in itself!

8. Tess Holliday

She hit headlines only recently when she was criticised by Piers Morgan for being plus-size and appearing on the cover of Cosmo. She has previously appeared in Vogue Italia, Nylon and even did a nude shoot for People, and she's a vocal campaigner for body positivity.

However, she has been attacked by people like Piers who believe the fashion industry should not be celebrating bigger people. In reality, though, seeing a woman on the other extreme to what we normally see (that is, unhealthily thin people) is an important statement to show that women can be happy in their bodies even if they aren't super-thin. While everybody should aspire to be healthy, everybody - no matter what their size - deserves to feel good about themselves.

9. Rick Genest

Before his death in August this year, Rick (aka Zombie Boy) held Guinness World Records for the most tattoos of insects and of human bones. The Canadian's body was covered in ink which gave him a career as a sideshow illustrated man before he landed modelling work. After modelling for Thierry Mugler, Lady Gaga had him appear in her Born This Way video. He also made appearances in 47 Ronin and Silent Witness.

10. Molly Bair

The beauty ideal that most magazines and catwalks present is so narrow that it's easy to get bored of seeing the same generic faces over and over again. 21-year-old Philadelphia model Molly Bair is breaking through those standards with her quirky features which she has previously described as a "alien-rat-demon-goblin-gremlin sort of vibe". We think she's super striking though, and it just proves you don't have to look like Alessandra Ambrosio to be considered beautiful.

11. Dru Presta

Catwalk models generally have to tower over everyone else at between 5 foot 8 and 5 foot 11, so this Reno model is truly defying the odds at just 3 foot 4. Being born with achondroplasia has had its challenges, but it hasn't stopped Dru chasing her dreams - nor has it stopped her becoming an advocate for health and fitness.

12. Daphne Selfe

In a world where women are routinely made to feel worthless and and ugly after the age of 30, it's amazing to see ageing women doing so well in the modelling industry. Daphne is 90-years-old and has been modelling for 70 years! There definitely needs to be more representation of older people; they exist, they wear clothes, and they're tired of seeing fashion tailored only to the young.

13. Lauren Wasser

In 2012, at just 24-years-old, this LA model lost her right leg to Toxic Shock Syndrome. Early this year, she lost her left leg too. But that's not stopped her in her pursuit of modelling or anything else. She wears two gold prostheses and still enjoys basketball and running. She's appeared in numerous magazines and last year she was in the video for Muse's song Dig Down. Legs do not maketh the woman.


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk


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