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10 inspiring models who prove we're *all* beautiful


Think all models look alike? Think again! We've rounded up ten stunning girls who are breaking down color, size, gender and disability barriers in the fiercest ways possible (and giving us major #goals). Check out the top trailblazing models who are changing the fashion industry’s meaning of the word beautiful below.


Nura Afia 
You might recognize Nura from her gorgeous beauty vlogs on YouTube (check out her channel Babylailalov if you haven’t already!), but you should get ready to see a lot more of her. Nura, a Muslim model who wears a hijab, is part of a new wave of beauty ambassadors who CoverGirl has chosen to show the diversity of the people who use their products. 


Shaun Ross
Growing up, Shaun endured bullying because of his albinism, a condition that affects the body’s ability to produce pigment in the skin, eyes and hair, but now he’s using his unique look to challenge fashion industry standards. He has appeared in two Beyonce videos, a Katy Perry video and has walked the runway at New York Fashion Week several years in a row. 


Jade Willoughby
Jade Willoughby is another barrier-breaking model who has recently walked the New York Fashion Week runways. Not only did Jade overcome prejudice against native models in the fashion industry (Jade is a First Nation model from Ontario), but she suffered a debilitating kidney disease as a child that made it hard for her to do the things she wanted. Now 23 and healthy, she has a glamorous life jetsetting around the world. 


Erika Linder
Erika’s Twitter bio best sums up her approach to modeling:"I have too much imagination to just be one gender.” Erika started her career modeling men’s clothes, but has since modeled in clothes for women too. Erika shattered gender norms when she posed in both men and women’s clothes in a Crocker Jeans ad.


Lea T. 
Lea is known for her Redken campaign and for being the muse of the creative director of Givenchy (impressive, right?). She’s also one of the most well-known transgender models in the industry, and she’s become an LGBT advocate and icon. Lea isn’t just breaking down barriers in fashion though—she’s shattering prejudice against those in the LGBT community across the world. She became the first openly transgender person ever to participate in the opening ceremonies of an Olympics when she led the Brazilian team into the stadiumduring the 2016 Olympics in Rio.


Jillian Mercado
Jillian is one of the only models in the fashion industry to use a wheelchair. As a child, Jillian was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams of working in the fashion industry. Besides doing campaigns for Diesel and Nordstrom, Jillian, has modeled for Beyonce’s website.


Carmen Dell'Orefice
Carmen is known not only as being the world’s oldest model, but also one of its best. Posing for the cover of Vogue at just 15 and continuing to model ever since, Dell’Orefice shows no sign of slowing down. 


Madeline Stuart
Madeline is one of only two models with Down’s Syndrome to appear on the New York Fashion Week catwalk. Since walking the runways in New York, this Australian model has appeared in Vogue and at just 20 years old, Madeline is already a powerful advocate for inclusiveness and diversity in modelling both in her fashion work and activism. 


Winnie Harlow 
Besides being a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, Winnie, a model who has the skin condition vitiligo, has appeared alongside Adriana Lima in the ad campaign for Desigual. Discovered on Instagram, Winnie is another model on this list who endured childhood bullying due to her unique looks. Now recognized for her contributions in the fashion industry worldwide, Winnie has given several inspiring talks about what it’s like growing up with vitiligo.  


Ashley Graham 
From starring in a D.N.C.E. video to gracing the cover of Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Ashley probably had the best 2016 of any of us. Considered the fashion industry’s leading plus-size model, this Nebraska native has appeared next to Gisele Bundchen and Karlie Kloss all within the last year. What’s more important than Ashley’s success though, is the message of body positivity that she promotes. In August, Ashley wrote an inspiring article where she put haters in their place, saying, "I am more than my measurements. I'm not Ashley Graham just because I'm curvy. Let's worry about our own bodies. My body is MY body. I'll call the shots."

Which of these models inspires you? Did we miss anyone? Tell us in the comments!

by Emily Cavanagh | 1/4/2017
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