Models of Diversity

The Face of Change

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 Sherry Tagoe
An interview with Rebecca Burge. The dictionary describes diversity as the concept that encompasses acceptance and respect.
The dictionary describes diversity as the concept that encompasses acceptance and respect.

It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Rebecca Burge recently won the title :Face of Diversity 2011. I had the opportunity to sit with her and discuss her story as well as the organisation she has become the face of.

Hi Rebecca, Its great to meet you. How would you summarise Models of Diversity?

'Models of Diversity is a London-based non-profit organization which advocates for more diversity in models, and demands that the fashion and marketing industries recognise the beauty in women and men of all races, ages, shapes, sizes and abilities. The mission is to change the face of fashion and modelling. We are a campaign founded to stand for equal rights and opportunities within the modelling and fashion industry, and are officially endorsed by the British Fashion Council. Models of Diversity is founded by Angel Sinclair and Sally Williams.

In April 2011, Models of Diversity teamed up with The Tree of Hope Children's Charity in a fundraiser/ fashion show. We have partnered with many organizations that combat eating disorders and bullying, as well as ones that advocate for people with disabilities, sick children, body image in people of colour, and more.

Children's Charities are also very important to us. We have worked with various charities in different fields and most recently Co-Founder Angel Sinclair has recently become Patron to the Advance Centre and will be running a Make-Over day for the mothers and children on July 14th, to raise funds for Cerebral Palsy.

Models of Diversity is made up of three separate components: Models with disabilities, Plus size models as well as models of colour.

Interesting. So with these three areas being the primary focus for the organization, take me through how it manages to flow so smoothly ?

Each targeted area has an ambassador that represents the group. As part of my role I meet with the ambassadors and discuss the concerns and challenges that may effect their particular department. I also aim to support each area and raise the awareness of diversity as a whole.

It appears that you have taken on a large task. It seems that your role acts as the glue that brings all of the components together. Paint us a picture of what a typical day in your role looks like.

Well, I would say that my day starts around 10:00am attending test shoots that involve the models from all three areas of our organisation. Most recently I met with Jonathan Lancaster while he attended a test shoot. Jonathan has a facial disfigurement and is a positive example of perseverance in relation to those affected by disability.

During my morning I normally meet with models, getting to know them, and hear their personal story. This normally carries on until mid afternoon. The rest of my day is often spent contacting various PR and Media companies as well as raising awareness about our projects and overall mission. This includes tasks such as mass emails, and keeping various social networking and television outlets up to date.

Would you say that you are supported in the role that you are in?
I would have to say I definitely am. I have the freedom to explore other interests and split my time between that and Models of Diversity.

Focusing on the plus size model section of the organisation what are your feelings on the size zero debate?
I definitely think that things have improved. I think that models should be healthy and this should be supported and encouraged by the industry. On the other hand if someone is actually size zero and they have not compromised their health to be this way then this to shall be accepted rather that them being an outcast.

Are their any models that you are following at the moment? Is there anyone that you see and you like what they are doing in the industry?

I'm really liking Ramilla Sisodia at the moment. She is an Asian model that that had already had a strong following from being an author. Not only is she stunning but she also speaks out against challenging issues that may affect her and people of a similar background.

What is in the future for Models of Diversity ?

We have a Model Of Colour Contest coming up as well as two Plus Size shows taking place in Watford and Chelmsford Shopping Centres.

What do you want to accomplish before your title comes to an end in April 2012?

I want to continue to promote the positive and unique message that is Models of Diversity. I would want to see more campaigns and store fronts and media outlets catering to "the diverse model". I would want see Diverse models to the frontline. I would want to highlight the Curvier model as well as the mature models. Also to continue to promote my size zero views .I want to change minds!

Personally speaking, who is Rebecca Burge?
I originally started my career as and actress and singer which soon developed into video work and modelling. The challenges in which I felt I faced was my height and the competitiveness and expectations of the industry. I am 5'4 and in the mainstream industry I may be considered short by most. Although I am still very interested in a vocal career, being the face Models of diversity has given me an opportunity that is incomparable.

What is your personal style?
Right now I am very into Bo Carter. her recent line was a mix of Victorian and Punk which suits my personal style .I like to wear what appeals to me rather than following trends. I aim for an alternative look with a hint of sophistication.

What challenges or struggles have you had to overcome if any?
I have often battled with anorexia and my weight .I am able to say that I have an eating disorder and this is something that I m working on to continue to live as healthy as possible.

I think it is amazing that you are able to discuss your health and challenges and perhaps this can set the stage for younger girls that find themselves battling with similar issues. What is your personal motto?

Love Yourself and Stay Positive and Energised !!

Models of Diversity models: Rebecca Burge, Jonathan Lancaster & Teen Ambassador Sophia Sargeant

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