Long gone are the days where one type of man or woman defines the beauty standards for their entire gender. Thanks to big thinkers, dreamers and motivators, there is a new array of role models for people to look up to that have all accomplished some incredible things. They’re the ones who have taken qualities that could be seen as unusual or unordinary and proved to us that they’re just as beautiful as anyone else. Here are the courageous models who are making us reevaluate our standards of beauty:
1. Winnie Harlow
A 20-year-old Toronto native, Chantelle Winnie Harlow has become a new beauty icon best known for her unique skin color. Winnie suffers from vitiligo (the disease that also affected Michael Jackson), which caused light blotches of skin to form on her body and face. She is the first model to suffer from this condition and has used it as her inspiration to keep striving for bigger and better things. From appearing on America’s Next Top Model to walking in Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief show to being the star of a Diesel campaign, this girl has shown us that embracing our differences can result in some truly amazing things. She’s also friends with Drake, so that’s pretty cool.
2. Jack Eyers
Jack was recently the first male amputee model to walk at New York Fashion Week, but that’s just one of the bazillion modeling gigs he’s had. He has been featured by brands such as boohoo, Barclays, Tango and the charity Scope. When Jack was young, his right leg was unable to form properly, so he chose to get it amputated at the age of 16 and continue life with a prosthetic leg. Since then, he has not been shy about, nor has he tried to hide what makes him different. He has been known to prefer wearing shorts as opposed to long pants, proudly showing off his prosthetic. We’re not at all surprised his career is going so well; the boy is awfully handsome. Along with his rock-hard body from working as a personal trainer, it’s safe to say he won’t have any trouble finding new modeling jobs in the future.
3. Erika Linder
Gender roles—and norms—look so different than they did even a decade ago. More and more people have been able to outwardly express themselves and be their truest self thanks to role models like Erika Linder. Famous for her androgynous look, Erika is one of the most versatile models in the biz. She has been featured in menswear shoots where she’s in a full-on suit and tie, and she’s also seen in photos where she’s wearing lacy dresses and chandelier earrings. Her hair has been long and short, and she rocks both looks with ease. Her gender-neutral look has allowed her to serve as inspiration to people who may not feel that they fit within specific definitions of one gender or the other. She also really likes dogs, tweets things we’re all thinking and is very musically talented. Where can we sign up to be Erika’s new BFF?
4. Robyn Lawley
She was the first plus-sized model to be featured in Australian Vogue, GQ Australia and Australia Cosmopolitan and the second plus-sized model to be on the cover of Elle France. However, you probably know Robyn best from her recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue feature. The first ever plus-sized model to be featured in the magazine’s history and towering at a little over 6 feet tall, she proved that you don't need to have one specific body type to look gorgeous (despite what the media seems to suggest sometimes). She has written articles for The Daily Beast addressing the weight obsession that our generation seems to have, touching on topics such as celebrities getting bashed for gaining weight and the thigh gap craze. Also, her food blog, Robyn Lawley Eats, has recently landed her a cookbook deal with Random House that will be filled with some of her family’s recipes and tips for eating healthy when traveling around the world.
5. Jamie Brewer
You’ve already seen and loved Jamie on American Horror Story, so here’s one more reason to obsess over this amazing woman. It can be difficult for individuals with Down syndrome or suffering from any other disability to find a celebrity role model they can really relate to—but Jamie does just that. She was the first-ever model with Down syndrome to walk in New York Fashion Week and absolutely crushed any skepticism people might have had about people suffering from this genetic disorder being able to achieve great things. Not only can she rock the runway, she also has a passion for inspiring others in the Down syndrome community. She has done a lot of work within her home state of Texas and non-profits such as the National Down Syndrome Congress and American Association of People with Disabilities of the United States to help encourage and empower others like her.
Our perceptions of what we view as "beautiful" are widening to include all of these people who are making us question why it's taken so long for them to have their time in the spotlight. What do you think about the changing definition of beauty, collegiettes?