Your Favorite Supermodels on Female Empowerment


From body positivity to #MeToo.

By Megan Shelton

Vogue has created a safe space for influential figures to share their opinions. At the Vogue Forces of Fashion conference, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Ashley Graham, and Paloma Elsesser participated in the panel “Don’t Label Us: The Models Reflecting Today.” Led by Director of Vogue Runway Nicole Phelps, the panel explored models impact on larger culture.

For years, the media has made models seemingly godly and unapproachable. Recently, models themselves have opened up about their private lives and personal problems. In 2016, Vogue dubbed Jenner and Hadid “Insta-girls,” for their enormous Instagram following. Elsesser, a prominent plus-size model discovered by makeup artist Pat Mcgrath, is an important figure in the promotion of body positivity and diversifying the fashion industry today. Graham speaks at schools on body image and acceptance for the Health at Every Size movement. In the sphere of curvy modeling, people were already familiar with Graham’s work prior, but it was her 2016 Sports Illustrated cover that began “normalizing” curvy women.

“It’s impressive that now because the dialogue has changed so much on social media, fashion is now taking into account what everyone wants,” Graham says.

Social media has provided a space for people to express their ideas freely. As society becomes more open, important dialogues begin, on topics like female harassment. For years, models posed naked in front of the camera. When the cameras are shut off, the public does not see behind the scenes of these shoots.

With the #MeToo movement, modeling is evolving, too. “No more than this last year have I been asked, ‘Do you feel good?’” says Paloma Elsesser. “That never happened.”

“People are much more mindful of where you’re changing, and if you’re naked on set, that everything is closed off and you feel comfortable,” added Graham. “Men are becoming more sensitive, women are taking action and having these conversations, and the set has actually changed.”

For women who have yet to share their own stories or are just entering the workforce, there is a lot to take away from #MeToo movement in every industry.

“Something beautiful that came out of this is the empowerment that women feel now, and it’s even made me feel more empowered,” Jenner says. “All the women that have come out and shared their stories, it’s really powerful to look at.”