Style LGBTQ Feminism

Model Industry Vets Revealed Harsh Truths About Being POC And Trans In Fashion

Joan Smalls and Hari Nef have a lot to say about diversity.

Joan Smalls and Hari Nef are two veteran models who have thrived in the fashion industry, despite adversity. Smalls, a Puerto Rican woman, and Nef, a transgender woman, recently spoke on a diversity panel alongside IMG President Ivan Bart for the Business of Fashion Voices event, as detailed by Teen Vogue.

"It’s mind-boggling," said Smalls about the overt racism. "I’ve been on option, and they dropped me at the last minute. And the excuse was, ‘We were afraid to try something new.’ And by ‘new,’ they meant ‘We’ve never shot a black girl.’” In fact, the only times she's ever felt chosen, it's been for campaigns as a selling point, meaning targeted black and Hispanic demographics. And many times, while shooting in "predominantly white regions," she's often been excluded from the final products, with the reason being that she "doesn't fit the quota."

Nef, another model revered in the industry, took the world and the transgender community by storm. Still, she believes diversity in the fashion industry is a charade. “There’s this subdivision of fashion bookings which also fetishizes diversity as an end," she said. "It’s not like you can just be a model — you have to be a trans model, or a black model, or a Latina model. They kind of bring you in and it’s like Diversity Day,” she continued, emphasizing air quotes. “Diversity Day is cool; Diversity Day essentially pays my bills. But it’s never a blue-chip campaign. It’s never a contract or rarely a contract."

Whew, they went in. Watch the full panel below.

H/T Teen Vogue.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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