These Were the Social Justice Leaders of 2017

Photo by Melodie Jeng

Nothing is more important than giving back to the community and during the past year these models have inspired us all by putting charity first. Devoting their time, energy and celebrity to causes big and small, these women and men raise awareness and bring hope to those who need it most.

Adwoa Aboah

Model and activist Adwoa Aboah concentrated on her online platform Gurls Talk. The non-profit focuses on women’s issues like mental health, addiction, body image and sexuality as well as provides a safe community of discourse aimed at empowering girls. It most recently partnered with Coach 1961 and Dazed Magazine for its first free festival full of panels of inspiring women like Emma Hope, Hanne Gaby, Reba Maybury, Adwoa herself and more, plus workshops and mental health seminars to get ‘gurls’ talking.

Cameron Russell

Grateful to @glamourmag and @cindi_leive for giving me the opportunity to speak at the #gwoty Summit. I got to share lots of ideas that have been swirling in my head for years, about speechlessness, and finding my voice. I strongly believe that most of us in the fashion industry have always known about the stories shared by the brave men and women who joined me in coming forward to say #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse. It would be almost impossible to be a player, and I include myself in this, who is unaware of the imbalance and abuse of power. I know we can do better, and this talk is my small contribution to a way forward for an industry that has so many parts I admire deeply, culture, community, and creativity, among them. To see the full talk go to & LINK IN BIO

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Cameron Russell took breaking the silence on sexual harassment into her own hands–literally–taking to Instagram to share dozens of anonymous stories of sexual abuse and misconduct in the industry. Her posts sparked a rallying cry prompting others to speak out. Cameron has a history of driving discourses, social issues and campaigns through her platform as a model like participating in the People’s Climate March.

Hanne Gaby Odiele

After Hanne Gaby Odiele revealed she was intersex the Belgian model emerged as an important intersex advocate. She teamed up with the non-profit InterACT Advocates for Intersex Youth for advocacy work. Odiele’s top model position allowed her to bring more visibility to the community and the issues correlated to growing up intersex, mainly operations done on children without their consent that can have side effects and emotional trauma. Advocates campaign for parents to wait to have those operation.

Sara Ziff

This year Sara Ziff, model and the founder of The Model Alliance, introduced plans for an amendment to the anti-discrimination laws in New York. The legislation will provide models a measure of protection from sexual harassment and workplace abuse. It can potentially be signed into law by the end of 2018. Ziff has long been campaigning against sexual abuse against models in the industry since shedding light on the issue in her documentary “Picture Me” in 2009 and then starting the Alliance in 2012.

Doutzen Kroes

The Dutch supermodel continued her Knot On My Planet initiative that sets to bring global attention to poaching, put an end to the ivory crisis and establish elephant wildlife protections. With up to 30,000 elephants killed every year, proceeds from the campaign go towards the Elephant Crisis Fund and she partnered with Tiffany & Co for the Tiffany Save the Wild, with 100% of donations going towards their fundraising goal of $15 million.

Teddy Quinlivan

Teddy Quinlivan made headlines when she revealed her transgendered identity through a powerful interview given on CNN Style. Teddy quickly began to dedicate her circumstance and words to raising awareness to the LGBTQ community and the political and social injustices they face. Look out 2018!

Alek Wek

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South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek campaigns as an UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador for human rights with a focus on refugees, women and children, as a former refugee herself. She currently stands as the ambassador for the H&M Conscious Foundation and also raises awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Molly Bair

As an ambassador for environmental conservation and clean up non-profit, Pure Earth, Molly Bair has used her platform to support global toxic pollution cleanup in order to improving the lives of millions of people, especially children, who are most at risk from this increasingly problematic threat.

Karlie Kloss

Karlie Kloss has created charity initiatives like Karlie’s Kookies, which provides meals with sale proceeds to those in need around the world and Kode with Karlie, which helps create coding education programs in high schools and scholarships for female teens.

Natalia Vodianova

???“Сама идея идеального человека становится смешной,” – основатель Фонда #ОбнаженныеСердца @NataSupernova для @tass_agency в честь Международного дня человека с инвалидностью??Читайте интервью полностью – (активная ссылка в профиле???) #особенностиразвития #инвалидность #деньинвалида #каждыйребенокдостоинсемьи #деньинвалидов /// “The very concept of a normal person is ridiculous”, – #NakedHeartFoundation founder @NataSupernova for @tass_agency on International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Read the interview (in Russian) here #disabilityday #disabilityday17 #IDPD #disabilityawareness #inclusionmatters #internationaldayofpeoplewithdisability #inclusion

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Equally gracious as she is stunning, Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova has become a philanthropic wonder blending focused fundraising with digital technology. Her Naked Heart Foundation has fundraised close to $60 million and hopes to end abandonment of special needs children. The organization has created over 150 new recreational parks for children to play and are specifically designed to meet the needs of children with physical or learning disabilities. In addition, her pioneering tech app, Elbi, connects users to charities around the world that they can donate to or volunteer with.

Leomie Anderson

Leomie Anderson has called out the industry on its treatment of black models and discrimination faced in fashion drawing from her personal experiences. She created her own politically conscious clothing line in 2016 called LAPP: Leomie Anderson the Project the Purpose which aims to empower women and promote confidence.

Casil McArthur

Garnering the support of many this year, Casil McArthur partnered up with Kenneth Cole for their Courageous Class panel and a monumental visit to the United Nations to talk about gender equality and the current issues that continue to plague transgendered people both stateside and abroad. The international stage saw well-known personalities and influencers rubbing shoulders with international members of state for the ultimate meeting of the minds.

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