Elaine Welteroth and Bethann Hardison speak on stage during Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week: The Shows - Day 5 at NYFW: The Shows HQ in New York City.

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How the former model is changing the industry one show at a time.

Lindsay Peoples
Sep, 18, 2015

The inimitable Bethann Hardison is renown in the industry for being a fashion activist and continuously fighting for diversity to be at the forefront of not only designers and model agents but the industry as a whole. Hardison sat down with Teen Vogue Beauty and Health Director, Elaine Welteroth to talk about the need for balancing diversity and her thoughts on cultural appropriation at “The Future of Fashion Talk Series,” sponsored by HQ events.

Take a look below at some of Hardison’s memorable quotes on her mission to change the industry.

Her thoughts on cultural appropriation:

"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. "

On why designers don’t push to use models of color more:

"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."

Why this is her life-long mission:

"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."

The significance of making diversity part of the conversation:

"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."