It’s no secret that the fashion industry widely promotes a monotonous beauty standard that is not only hard to identify with but a skewed representation of society.

Thankfully, more models than ever before are breaking with this mould, proving that different is beautiful. Even though the appearance of these models is still a novelty, with each photo shoot, cover and campaign, they are becoming less of an exception and more the norm.

Here are the model muses changing the fashion industry’s beauty standards, right now:

Chantelle Brown-Young/ Winnie Harlow

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19-year-old Winnie Harlow is a breakthrough star from America’s Next Top Model‘s 21st cycle. The Canadian model has vitiligo, which causes depigmentation to parts of the skin.Winnie grappled with thoughts of suicide while growing up, but now her skin is one of her greatest assets. The model has has starred in several fall campaigns, including ads for Desigual and  SHOWstudio and also walked in Toronto fashion week.

Thando Hopa

Thando Hope

Local model Thando Hope ventured into modelling after being spotted by fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee at the Rooke and Van Wyk Mall in Johannesburg. Thando is also an activist and lawyer at the National Prosecuting Authority, and was named the first local ambassador for Vichy Captical Soleil in 2014. Her striking look is partly due to albinism, a complete or partial absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.


Erika Linder


‘I have too much imagination to just be one gender,’ reads Erika Linder’s Twitter bio – a perfect summary of her gender identity and career. Erika made history in 2014 as the first model to star in a fashion campaign as both a female and a male in an ad for JC Jeans Company.

But what do we respect most about her? The time she takes to support her fans.

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Ashley Graham



This Nebraska-born beauty has been modelling for several years but made a name for herself in 2014 when she and four other models were signed to powerhouse modelling agency IMG. Instead of being incorporated into the ‘plus-sized’ category, they were placed into the general ‘women’ roster with the likes of Karlie Kloss and Gisele Bundchen.

Ashley is also an outspoken advocate for body diversity telling i-D magazine: I am a model, and I don’t need my job title to explain the dimensions of my body.’


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Lea T

lea t

As a trangsgender model, Lea T is proving that transforming gender roles is not just a fad. The Brazilian born 23-year-old, made her name as creative director of Givency Riccardo Tisci’s muse and regularly appears in his runway shows. She is also the first transgender model to become the face of Redken and will star in the company’s January 2015 Chromatics hair colour campaign.

Image credits:; JC Jeans; Desigual; Instagram.