The fashion industry has become a growing beacon for queer expression. But from the inside, it might not appear as such.
Chicago-based model, Chufue Yang was recently dropped from Ford Models. In an Instagram post, he talks about his experience trying to meet the standards of the industry. In addition to things like height, he cites racism and homophobia as issues that models face.
"The glass ceiling capped on people of color, especially queer people of color prevails," he writes "The blame is not on my previous agents, not on my previous agency but on the industry and myself for not having a firmer stance on my values. What I've learned is to not lose your voice in an industry where your physical features are placed above everything else, especially your identity."
In an interview with Dazed, Yang also discussed a previous Instagram post in which he called out Models.com for mislabeling him as Mongolian (he's Hmong). But after his agent asked him to delete the post, he felt silenced by the industry. In the past, they'd changed his height or erased his ethnicity from his comp card.
"To be honest, this whole experience seemed like it was a test run and I was the guinea pig," he said. "Sign on a cool, ethnic-looking person, try to push them out, and if that doesn't work, drop them."
Ford Models was not immediately available for a statement.
Although Yang sees a larger issue that needs to be addressed in the industry, he takes some responsibility.
"Ultimately, the blame isn't on my previous agents or my previous agency, but on the industry and myself for not having a stronger stance on my values, voice, and identity," he said. "We all learn from our mistakes though."
Yang has shifted his focus to his education, but he wants to return to modeling in the future, which he says is a stepping stone to a bigger platform.
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