For those of you who have not yet heard of All Walks, it is a foundation supported by the model Erin O'connor and others to push the boundaries of diversity in the fashion industry. A recent tweet on twitter from a fashion blogger stated "I hate the term real women" and whilst I understand where this blogger was coming from i.e, the use of a term like this supposes that some women are real and some are not, the term which I admit to using myself (in the context of my about me page on My Passport To Style) has come into use simply because many women out there feel pressured to live up to stereotypical images of beauty in magazines and films so it has now become necessary to make it clear to women that struggle with these sometimes unrealistic versions of what equals great style that there is a place for them also to own their own sense of style that fits with their personal body image.
I am at a place in my life where I can appreciate the fantasy and the glamour of fashion related images and what they stand for in their own right, that is advertising for fashion brands and beauty products, without feeling the sense of pressure that many young women and older women and women of colour and larger women feel from seeing heavily air brushed models. Part of my process has been working with body image issues as a personal stylist and as a mentor to young teen girls around body image, which has given me insight into the kind of issues women of all back grounds face on a daily basis. In my work as a stylist I encourage women to have fun with fashion and have their own sense of personal style and to be aware of what lies beneath glossy fashion images is often a performance, hair, makeup a great model and airbrushing!
I think the debate as to whether or not fashion industry should represent more diversity is very much like the whole debate of changing the fast food culture in that we are led to believe as women we have freedom of choice to buy all those big macs and gain a ton of weight or not. We do have a choice, but choices are influenced by the culture we are surrounded by, I believe that once a particular culture saturates the landscape we live in, to a point that there are no comparisons, then it no longer becomes a choice but a vacuum of pressure to conform to stereotypes. The great thing about All Walks is ultimately if the message gets through to the fashion industry, it will impact positively on consumers and employees of the fashion industry too. So as a Woman who loves the expression and creativity that great fashion allows and is of dual heritage and a very healthy size 14 I applaud All Walks in its pioneering efforts towards a diverse fashion industry.
What do you think do we need to represent women of all shapes and sizes and skin tones in a more realistic way? Find out more at http://www.allwalks.org/
photo credits Rankin at All Walks