“After a certain point you can’t keep saying this is not my aesthetic. When the president of the CFDA [Council of Fashion Designers of America] says in her letter every season, ‘Think healthy, think diversity,’ and they continue to put the letter in the garbage as they pin the dress on one of the 35 white girls walking down their runway, what kind of lack of responsibility and insensitivity are you demonstrating when your society around you is changing?” –Bethann Hardison
Bethann Hardison is a dynamic fashion activist, film producer/director, and model who consistently advocates for more diversity in advertising and the overall fashion industry. In the late 60s, she was discovered by fashion designer, Will Smith, and began working as a fitting model, eventually transitioning to the runway and print industries. Throughout the 70s, Bethann broke barriers appearing in Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue.
Becoming more concerned with industry politics, Hardison changed her focus to advocacy and support, and in 1984 she successfully started Bethann Management Agency to represent models of all ethnicities. In 1989, she co-founded the Black Girl’s Coalition to help bring awareness to wide-ranging issues such as homelessness in New York to diversity in advertising.
Hardison continues to strongly challenge the fashion industry and has also turned her attention toward film, recently producing several documentaries including About Face: Supermodels Then and Now, and Invisible Beauty, which sheds light on racism in the industry and how Black women are becoming invisible despite successful strides in previous decades.
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