Models in 2022 bear little resemblance to the models of twenty or even ten years ago.
While the former fashion elite were criticized for looking emaciated and promoting unrealistic beauty standards, today’s models take celebrating realness to the next level. It’s not uncommon to encounter billboards promoting obesity, c-section scars, insulin pumps, amputations, skin conditions, and a slew of other unique factors.
Adding diversity and uniqueness to the modeling industry is a welcome change for many who were sick of airbrushed images that made men and women feel bad about themselves. But did the pendulum swing too far the other way?
Take plus-sized model Yumi Nu, who recently made headlines for nabbing the coveted spot on the cover of the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. “I was processing the surprise of it not being a real interview and that this was actually the SI cover reveal. I could not speak. I had full body chills. I was shaking, I was crying. They really got me good,” Nu said of finding out she would appear on the magazine cover.
Not everyone loved the image, though. Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson’s Twitter response went viral from both people who agreed with his take and critics who thought he was being too harsh.
“Sorry. Not beautiful,” Peterson shared in response to a New York Post headline about Nu. “And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.”
Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that. https://t.co/rOASeeQvee
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) May 16, 2022
In a follow up, he wrote, “It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned & properly changed by those who know better … but don’t let the facts stop you.”
Nu is certainly not the first plus-sized model to grace the cover of a magazine. In February 2021, Cosmopolitan magazine received backlash for their “This is healthy! 11 women on why wellness doesn’t have to be one size fits all,” cover series, which features morbidly obese women posing in workout clothes.
Why is Cosmopolitan trying to kill obese people, who are particularly vulnerable to Covid? pic.twitter.com/cZhRpnldUV
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 4, 2021
This was all happening as data came out proving the irrefutable link between COVID-19 death rates and obesity, a previous report from The Daily Wire stated. Apparently, 73% of the half a million Americans who died from COVID-19 from the pandemic’s beginning and 2021 were obese or overweight, the CDC confirmed.
Whether it be plus-sized models or other distinctions, there is no question that intentional representation in modeling has exploded in recent years.
Sports Illustrated also selected a mom who proudly showed off her c-section scar in a swimsuit spread. The publication wrote on social media: “We are proud to partner with @fridamom to celebrate all moms who bare C-Section scars by featuring @kellyhues in #SISwim22- the FIRST woman to expose her C-Section scar in magazine’s history!”
Cover model Kelly Hughes wrote on Instagram,“I am speechless and so honored to be in @si_swimsuit2022 as the FIRST woman to expose her c-section scar in magazines history!”, The Daily Wire originally reported. “This partnership with @fridamom #paywithchange partnership to normalize and embrace the changes with a woman’s body especially when becoming a mom is so amazing to be a part of.”
“I struggled with insecurities from my scar being that I’m a model and my incredibly difficult recovery but it wasn’t until I ‘embraced my scar that I experienced the true power in it,’” Hughes continued.
Frida Mom also shared the photo of Hughes on Instagram, saying, “We’ve partnered with @si_swimsuit to feature a model showing her C-Section Scar – for the first. time. ever. To @kellyhues & all the C-Section moms, wear that scar with pride. It’s proof you’re strong as a mother.”
Sports Illustrated models aren’t the only ones sharing their uniqueness. Supermodel Kate Moss’s daughter Lila Moss, 19, appeared in a joint campaign for Versace and Fendi. The teen modeled luxury handbags and openly showed her continuous blood glucose monitoring device on her upper-right arm, which she wears to control her Type 1 diabetes.
The glucose monitor could also be seen as Lila walked the runway for the brands in September 2021.
During an interview in 2020, the model told The Kit: “I think not many people know that I have diabetes. It’s not visible from the outside, so no one would really know just by looking at you.”
Even the most notoriously homogenous fashion brands have jumped on the diversity bandwagon. Victoria’s Secret, a women’s intimates brand that is routinely mocked for promoting impossible beauty standards, recently debuted a transgender model to show off their merchandise. TikTok star Emira D’Spain partnered with the brand in February 2022.
“I don’t need a man to buy me flowers,” D’Spain said in a promotional video, concluding: “Valentine’s Day may be about love, but it also includes loving yourself.”
“My entire platform is built on confidence and self-love,” D’Spain said in a statement to USA TODAY at the time.
She continued: “I want to empower young trans women and men around the world to show them that the beauty and fashion industries are changing, especially if you are a POC. I am so grateful to work with Victoria’s Secret and hope this paves the way for those after me.”
As trans representation becomes more prevalent in pop culture, the modeling industry is following along. Recently, Calvin Klein proudly debuted a pregnant trans “man” who posed for their Mother’s Day campaign.
“Today, in support of women and mothers around the world, we highlight the reality of new families,” the company shared in the Instagram description, as previously reported by The Daily Wire.
The post goes on to describe examples of non-traditional families. “@k.vventzel is a South African painter and mother to Wild. @erikafeeh and @roberto_bete are expecting parents from Brazil. Roberto is due to give birth to his and Erika’s son Noah any day now. @venedaacarter is a prominent fashion consultant. Her family is Bobbi and Weston,” the caption continued.
Comments were very supportive to the brands professed zero tolerance policy on negativity.
“We embrace this platform as an inclusive and respectful environment for individualism and self-expression. At Calvin Klein, we tolerate everything except intolerance— any intolerant commentary will be removed, and any accounts issuing hateful statements may be blocked,” the company posted in the comments.
“We look forward to continuing a positive and inclusive dialogue in partnership with our community.”
It seems impossible that the world will go back to the days of super thin, impossibly unblemished models of prior decades. However, people are beginning to wonder how much more “real” the modeling industry can get.
Amanda Harding is an entertainment writer for The Daily Wire. She has years of industry experience and a keen eye for what’s trending in the world of entertainment. She previously wrote for Showbiz Cheat Sheet.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and not necessarily those of The Daily Wire.