This article appeared in the first 2016/2017 issue of the Look magazine
Once upon a time, the world of fashion was dominated by a certain type of model. The idyllic concept of having a perfect physique and symmetrical face has been promoted for as long as we can remember.
The annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show is just one of many events that leaves most women jaw-droppingly gazing at the flawless, glowing physiques striding across the television screen, displaying dream-like garments.
Countless fashion shows and photo shoots spread across the front pages of glossy magazines showcasing ‘perfect’ models would be enough to leave anyone feeling low about their own appearance. However, in recent years the fashion industry has given us a nice surprise by starring models with imperfections in fashion shows, photoshoots and campaigns.
Bronx native, Shaun Ross, is an African-American albino model who successfully became the first male albino pro model after he was discovered dancing on YouTube. Albinism is a skin disorder caused by a defect of melanin production.
At the age of sixteen, Ross became represented by Djamee Models in New York City as well as AMCK models London. Since then, Ross has walked in various fashion shows including Tim Hamilton, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen. He has also featured in photo editorial campaigns for i-D Magazine, Paper Magazine, GQ, Italian Vogue and more.
Shaun Ross’ unique, eye-catching looks have also caught the attention of music artists leading to him featuring in various music videos for artists including Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Lana Del Ray.
Although his success has been booming in recent years, Ross’ life wasn’t always as pleasant. He admitted that growing up albino in the Bronx wasn’t easy and that he was often bullied for his appearance. In a recent interview for Complex.com, the model admitted that although his success in modelling is growing, he wasn’t always comfortable showcasing his unique looks.
“People definitely wanted me because of a novelty, and I didn’t catch up to that until years later. I didn’t like that. I try to flip that script. You’re not about to use me because I look cool. You’re about to get a story that goes behind this look.”
Determined to keep growing in terms of his career, the pro model now hopes to progress from modelling into acting in the coming years.
Another model proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is Chantelle Brown-Young, also known as Winnie Harlow. The Jamaican model was born with vitiligo, a skin disorder as a result of the depigmentation of portions of the skin. Similar to Shaun Ross, Chantelle claims to have been bullied as a child, however she was determined not to let her skin disorder come between her dream of becoming a professional model.
Embracing her unique looks, Chantelle has previously appeared on a season of America’s Next Top Model. She is now the current brand ambassador for Barcelona-based clothing brand, Desigual, alongside Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima.
With people like Shaun Ross and Chantelle Brown-Young embracing their natural imperfections and becoming iconic for doing so in the world of fashion, it leaves us with the idea that perhaps the world of fashion is still evolving for the better.
By Shirley Donlon