Back when I lived in Vancouver, I took a film and wardrobe styling course. I wanted to be a part of the fashion industry, and while in Vancouver, that is a small arena, so I thought film wardrobe was my way to go. I ended up starting fashion styling instead. I really enjoyed it and desired to become a fashion stylist like those I read about and followed in magazines. A lot of the time I was working with young models as they built their book and needed to gain some experience.
I remember one distinct day where I was working with a team and one of the members of the team wanted to use chains in the fashion shoot. Our model was fourteen or fifteen years old. I was aghast. I was not comfortable creating this dark imagery of this young girl being objectified with chains. I tried to talk her out if it and she wouldn’t budge. I realized then and there that I couldn’t take part in styling if I wasn’t able to control the type of images that were being created. I didn’t want to be a part of that objectification of young women any longer.
Recently, this post on ‘The Dehumanization of of Female Models‘ came across my path and I remembered that day many years ago when I decided enough was enough. In this post, Native model Jade Willoughby (who modeled in Sage Paul’s recent fashion show) was featured. She is definitely shifting perceptions. She spent her childhood battling the Minimal Change Disease, which left her feeling a little socially awkward. Jade is Jamaican/Ojibway and is two-spirited and is taking the fashion world by storm.
It’s great to see girls out there like Jade, who are representing strong Native women, and creating diversity in the fashion industry. When that day comes where I can control my fashion shoots, I know just who I am going to call first.