Bethann Hardison is a badass. She was one of the first black models to walk the European runways when she appeared in the "Battle of Versailles" walk-off in 1973. And even until today, she's been championing for the diversity of models in the industry, and now, Bethann Hardison joins Models.com in their Diversity Rules! campaign.
This is just one of the many efforts Hardison has made to add more women of color in the industry. When the Fashion Spot released their report analyzing 151 fashion shows, it was found that approximately 80 percent of white models continued to dominate the the runways for the past three seasons.
In the fall of 2013, Hardison and the Diversity Coalition sent letters to the directors of the CFDA, the British Fashion Council, and others stating
"Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches fashion design houses consistently use…one or no models of color. No matter the intention, the result is racism." Each version listed the corresponding city's women's and menswear brands "guilty of this racist act," according to Elle.
Hardison joined Models.com editor in chief Stefan Moskovic to create a Diversity Rules! online series. Hardison wanted to shed light on the agencies that are progressing and including more women of color in their lineups, like Ford, Wilhelmina, and a few other agencies. She hopes to add another 5 to ten more, including some men's agencies as well.
So far, response for the campaign has been enthusiastic, with 1.5 unique visitors a month, according to WWD. While it was reported that in the fall of 2014, there was a "marked improvement" on the runways, especially those of Prada, Alexander McQueen, Céline, The Row, Dries van Noten, and more, according to Elle, there is still more work to be done. We can only hope that this joining of forces brings more power to the cause.
Check out the Diversity Rules! Part 4: Wilhelmena here.