Beauty, Diversified: Looking at Models Around the World Proves There is Not One Definition of Beautiful

Beauty, Diversified: How Fashion Weeks Unite a Diverse Global Community

Have you ever pored over pictures from Fashion Week and thought to yourself:
Wow, that looks like me. I look like that model! And I feel beautiful.” ?

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If it hasn’t happened yet to you, it definitely will soon. Fashion is always changing, and what’s currently in style doesn’t just depend on what’s hot in Milan or London. In fact, the looks on the runway are intricately connected with cultural standards–and no two countries see beauty the same.

Go to Brooklyn and on the runway you’ll see that familiar waif-like look, made popular by Twiggy so many decades ago. Then fly over to Manila, where designers look to a fuller figure, and you’ll be met with the polar opposite.

Though there are outliers in every culture–a curvier girl might struggle to book a job in Berlin, while she’d find plenty of opportunities at Lakme Fashion Week–the true beauty of fashion lies in its diversity. If we all looked the same, and if every designer thought the same, what would be the point?

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As we grow fashion into a global community, more and more we’ll realize that all of our interests are represented. Big, small, short, tall, dark-skinned and light–each one of our many traits is someone’s inspiration, and it’s Runway Passport’s goal to connect us all with the styles and unique designers that fit our identities best.

After all, fashion shouldn’t make anyone feel bad. No type of beauty is “better” than another–they’re just different. And–though this may go without saying–models are more than clothes-hangers! From Mumbai to Berlin, no two fashion weeks are the same–and that’s precisely the way it should be.

What you see on the runway from one city (or country) to the next is a cross-section of cultural celebration. What we said earlier about seeing models who look like us–that’s in part the point of these fashion weeks, which exist to honor different sorts of beauty through our infinitely many perspectives.

Whether or not individual fashion weeks embrace large-scale diversity, they’re making so many views of beauty accessible to the whole world. In turn, seeing these variant aesthetic preferences can lead women (and men!) everywhere to understand that all types are beautiful, and that no one is “better” than the others.

This diverse view of fashion, we hope, will ultimately grow to apply to us all, no matter where we live. After all, thanks to digital media, you can be in the “front row” of a fashion show that’s thousands of miles away.

With the help of the Internet and its vast global community, we’ll build one group, united, that wholeheartedly loves and celebrates all kinds of beauty.

Mumbai (Photos: Facebook/Lakme Fashion Week)

At Lakme Fashion Week 2015, blocked-out colors, billowing fabrics and shiny black leather made an appearance. So did sleek curves and well-muscled thighs–models on this runway literally glowed with health.

(Some seriously voluptuous statues made an appearance, too.)

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Manila (Photos: Facebook/Philippine Fashion Week)

Models strutted and stunned at Philippine Fashion Week. And boy, did they impress upon us that looking strong is what’s in style. Shot from below, these ladies resemble Amazonian goddesses–or, at the very least, swaggy stylistas! Intricate beadwork, faded flower patterns and leopard print looks right at home on these confident and curvy  bodies.

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Berlin (Photos: Facebook/Berlin Fashion Week)

Ah, Berlin–an epicenter of creativity, punk, and Lady Gaga-esque looks. The models may fit some stereotypes–they’re slim and young, by all accounts slightly androgynous–but by no means are they typical. And, as on all runways, they work in tandem with the clothing’s experimental shapes and lines to showcase the designer’s innovative ideas.

In one showcase, an impossibly curvy tulip-shaped skirt is juxtaposed with a model’s thin-hipped frame, projecting themes of both fertility and youth. In another, velvet and soft, furry materials provide contrast to sharp cheekbones and defined features. In Berlin, it seems, fashionistas can have their cake and eat it too.

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New York (Photos: Facebook/New York Fashion Week)

New York Fashion Week is everything you’d expect from Gotham and more. Between light-dark statement garments and pattern-on-pattern pieces, designers are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s “in.”

Likewise, in a time when models in some places have come under fire for low body weights, NYFW is pushing another kind of boundary. Not everyone has to conform to the same beauty standard, and that’s exactly what we see with such slender models on the New York runways. Body shape is a personal choice, and it seems that NYFW has decided that skinny best fits its aesthetic.

While that has been the overall push of the fashion industry and has caused a lot of harm, this “ideal” balances out into just an option when we start to centralize the global fashion weeks of the world. This artificial ideal of the thinner the better becomes just another type of beautiful body to have instead of “the only” beautiful body to have. 

In a global context it works as a celebration of just another body type Evidence: “I love designers that make women feel like women!” Alessandra Ambrésio of Victoria’s Secret said in 2012 of the show. Sounds like she really felt a connection with others who walked at Fashion Week.

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London (Photos: Facebook/UK Plus Size Fashion Week)

One of the newest showcases to grace the global runway is the UK’s Plus Size Fashion Week. Held in London, the event was held for the first time in 2013 and is the largest of its kind in all of Europe.

Here there’s a true diversity of bodies: not all plus-sized women look the same, and proportions differ just as they would in a straight-sized show. The 2015 lineup featured lots of fluffy detailing, such as feathers, fringe, and even big, teased hair. Whatever your own aesthetic preference, I think we can all agree that Plus Size Fashion Week boasts formidable fashion and talent. As 2014 panelist Laura Puddy said of the event, “It truly was amazing to see an event celebrating diversity and promoting that you can look and feel good no matter what your shape or size!”

We’ve gotta say “amen” to that, as we celebrate another beautiful body type.

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Dakar (Photos: Facebook/Dakar Fashion Week)

Dakar Fashion Week is awash in vivid color, stunning contrast, and couture that calls on culture. Impressive cheekbones and bold statement makeup are ubiquitous; the models’ jutting poses and sculpted expressions embody a brand of fashion that’s all at once futuristic and traditional.

Like in NYFW, the models are thin, but the effect is different. Where New York’s showcase succeeds by being muted and understated, Dakar Fashion Week wears vibrancy and life on its sleeve.

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While super thin still does dominate most runways, as you look to the fashion industry on a global scale, there is more diversity in terms of beauty. Hopefully this will lead to all different types and shapes of beauty being equally valued and celebrated in all locations. We don’t expect it overnight, but it definitely is moving in that direction.

Author: Rebecca Marielle
Follow Rebecca on Twitter – @guysimherenow

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