Bethann Hardison, renowned fashion activist and former model, is the authority when it comes to diversity within the fashion industry. Hardison hosted an intimate gathering on Monday afternoon in the midst of New York Fashion Week, to speak at "The Future of Fashion Talk Series," sponsored by HQ Events.
And true to Hardison's tell-it-like-it-is spirit, the hour-long event was an entertaining and informative look into her tireless campaign to inject more diversity on the runway and beyond. That sentiment was shared by Elaine Welteroth, Teen Vogue's beauty and health director, who joined Hardison for the candid conversation and shared her optimism in the movement.
"There's this moment happening in our culture where the power of the audience and the influence that people of color have is undeniable at this point," said Welteroth. "And so therefore from what I see, people of color are being called on in a different way. We're being heard in a different way -- louder. And I think it's such an exciting time. The power structure is being redefined and we're redefining beauty with the stories that we're telling and the women we're showing on our covers. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely. 100 percent. But I think we should celebrate where we've come from."
Overall, the talk was another step in the right direction and an opportunity to keep the idea of diversity a priority.
Here's a look at some of Hardison's standout quotes from event. Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
On the importance of keeping the push for diversity going:
"I noticed that when I took my foot off the gas for about three years, everything went completely backwards. Now I realize it's got to stay on. I've gotta keep calling people out. You gotta keep nudging them."
On who she's addressing in her campaign for more diversity:
"People come up to me and say, 'Oh my god. I'm so happy, Miss Bethann. Thank you for helping our people.' I'm not trying to help our people. I'm trying to help white people. I think white people have the problem. Black people don't. The fact of it is, we're here to change society's thinking."
On calling out designers who don't use models of color in their shows:
"People don't want to be thought of as racist -- they just don't. But the fact is, they are. They don't mean to be, but that's the worst kind, right? The ones that feel like they can just be out there."
On helping others succeed in the fashion industry when you're being made to feel there is only room for one black person:
"We have to be much more courageous and not be afraid."
On defining the standards of beauty:
"Fashion is fashion. That's not beauty to me. Beauty is just who we are. You've got to create that. You've got to stand up and create your own definition.
On cultural appropriation in the fashion and beauty industry:
"I'm a little too secure. I sort of think it's applauding our culture. I don't get upset. But I also didn't go to college. I think that most intellectual-thinking young black people really have a lot of problems with a lot of things that go down. But I didn't grow up like that ... I can see someone getting upset at stuff like that though -- because is it yaying us or dissing us? I just think, as long as you do it right. "
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