As the fashion world expands its global reach, many of the world’s most famous supermodels are not only killing it on the catwalk, but are also challenging our expectations by proving to us that there's more to Vogue-type notoriety than just tabloid headlines and booking campaigns. Models and supermodels alike are now using their platform to bring attention to causes that affect women socially, financially, and psychologically on a global level. (And they’re doing it with style, ofc.)
Between models, designers, and the occasional pop star, supermodel Karlie Kloss seems to be everyone's BFF. In addition to being the star and creator of her own YouTube channel, Karlie has also become an avid coder, and in 2015 she created Kode with Klossy, a scholarship program offering young women the chance to gain experience and knowledge in male dominated fields such as computer sciences and software engineering. Apart from her countless entrepreneurial endeavours, Karlie has also collaborated with a number of designers to champion the message of women supporting other women. Earlier this year she starred in Diane Von Furstenberg’s Spring 2016 campaign, for which the designer praised her for remaining true to the DVF motto: “be the woman you want to be.” In the campaign’s behind-the-scenes video, the two are overheard discussing the positive influence women have had on their lives and when Diane remarks that, “no one ever told [Karlie] ‘you can’t do this because you’re a girl,’ ” Karlie shakes her head. “Just the opposite. It almost felt like I wanted things more [because of it].”
On the other side of the globe, supermodel Liya Kebede was born in Addis Ababa, the bustling capital of Ethiopia, where maternal deaths occur at an epidemic rate. After becoming the World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, the model and mother of two decided to do more for her fellow Ethiopian mothers by founding the Liya Kebede Foundation, which aims to provide efficient material and training to ensure the health and safety of future generations of mothers. Then, back in 2007, following a trip to her country of birth, she also went the extra mile in enabling Ethiopian women to flourish as entrepreneurs by launching the clothing line Lemlem, composed of a hard-working team of artisans who, thanks to Liya, now have a platform to become financially independent while preserving their traditional hand-woven techniques. Liya used the platform that modeling gave her to help other women step up too.
One of the most exciting young faces (and minds, ofc) in the fashion industry right now is Adwoa Aboah. While her freckled face, bored stare, and buzz cut might give her a mesmerizing allure that has landed her on many a magazine cover, it’s her efforts to shatter the pressures of body image and the effects it often has on girls and women that make her a standout individual. Drawing on her own past with depression, addiction, and a suicide attempt that left her in a coma for 4 days, Adwoa launched Gurls Talk as a space where she can share her unmasked opinion and start a dialogue on the causes that affects us all as young women with over 36,000 supportive Instagram followers. The London-based model told W that she uses "the connections and the finances" from modelling to grow Gurls Talk by going on school visits across the city.
For generations, those skeptical of the fashion industry have assumed that being an active feminist and participating in modeling were mutually exclusive. Of course they aren’t. These outspoken women continue to show us that, in this day and age, there’s more to being a model than knowing how to stay still in front of the camera; it’s about staying vocal and involved with so that you can stay in the action even while you’re off camera.