Models' Social Media Domination Now Includes Activism, Apparently

Photo: Richard Young/REX Shutterstock.
Trying to kill it on social media in order to lure in as many followers as possible — lots of us these days share that goal. But some models are involved in a more aggressive game. According to The New York Times, social media is also a place for catwalk regulars to air their views on sociopolitical matters, “taking positions, albeit politely, on women’s issues, racial equality and gay rights, and, in rarer instances, declaring their support for political candidates.” But does anyone care?

Examples include Cara Delevingne and Behati Prinsloo joining the conversation about the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by American hunter (day job: dentist) Walter J. Palmer, as well as Jourdan Dunn posting a shot of herself with Naomi Campbell donning “Fashion Against Ebola” T-shirts. Another example offered up is Lindsey Wixson Instagram-ing her cover coup on the Thai edition of Harper’s Bazaar, which has the cover line “Woman Power” framing her ultra-pouty lips. Delevingne has also chimed in about the Black Lives Matter movement on Instagram, notes the Times.

Even modeling agencies are in favor of their leggy talents piping up about the heavy stuff: “We ask them to look at current events and not focus all the attention on what shoes they’re going to walk in next season,” Society Management’s marketing coordinator, Vicky Yang, told the Times. But there are still limitations: “We urge our talents to draw people in without alienating anyone, and would likely steer them away from topics that are sensitive.”

Social-media clout can help score you the September cover of a major fashion title (hello, Gigi Hadid!) as well as the cover of a media trade publication — Hadid's March Adweek cover ran with the headline “Social Supermodels.” Being savvy about social media landed Karlie Kloss, Delevingne, and Joan Smalls on last September’s Vogue cover, together; they were dubbed the “Instagirls.”

But fatigue from the whole “OMG, models do this social-media thing, and they’re really awesome at it!” is starting to set in, and framing models as activists might be pushing it a little too far. A few runway regulars have indeed put a lot of time and effort into their causes, Christy Turlington Burns being one example, though she’s basically an ex-supermodel at this point.

Getting teens and twentysomethings to care about important political and social matters is hard enough, so if Delevingne or Dunn can help raise awareness about something, that’s great. That’s not to say that these beauties don’t pitch in a bit offline as well. Delevingne sold her personal Tag Heuer watch on eBay in honor of Cecil the lion, with all proceeds of the top bid of £9,300, or roughly $14,500, benefiting WildCRU, a conservation organization that closely researched Cecil. Dunn is an ambassador for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America; the cause hits close to home, as her son has the disease. However, being an activist (or pretending you’re one) is a slightly absurd new way that social media can “make” a model’s career.

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