Miami Swim Week makes history with inclusive, diverse runways: ‘REAL PEOPLE, real bodies’

Miami Swim Week saw its most inclusive and diverse casting yet with a host of shows that put women of all sizes, shapes and ethnicities on the runway. Now, in the aftermath of the shows, people are praising the brands that made strides in redefining what beauty can look like and are reflecting on what that might mean for younger people watching the shows today.

PrettyLittleThing kicked off the week with a show that had plenty to celebrate, including transgender models, those with disabilities and one with a baby on the way.

Kayla Maria G, a dancer and model from New York, opened the show with a splash as she performed choreography down the runway. When posting about the moment to Instagram, she wrote about growing up with a limb difference and how it made all of her dreams seem "unrealistic," until now.

"Being asked to not only model but open up @prettylittlething's Miami Swimwear Week is an iconic moment for me," she wrote. "Inclusion campaigns are the first step to normalization and extremely proud of being part of that barrier break."

Anna Sarol, a disabled model who took to the catwalk in her wheelchair, echoed a similar sentiment in her social media post.

"This is DISABILITY PRIDE," she captioned a video that featured some of her first moments in a wheelchair after suffering a spinal cord injury before showing a clip of her on the PrettyLittleThing's runway. "What better way to celebrate Disability Pride Month than by walking Miami Swim Week."

The show also featured Andrea Thomas, a South Asian model with vitiligo, as well as Dani Candray, who showed off a beautiful bald head.

"I’m still processing last night! First time walking Miami swim week with @prettylittlething," Candray wrote on Instagram. "An absolute honor and a dream come true. I got emotional after the show because I couldn’t believe this was my life."

Bruna Rangel Lima also took to the runway in a beautiful bikini that showcased her growing baby bump, just days after posting a 30-week portrait to her Instagram.

Fans, new and old, of PrettyLittleThing praised the brand for the inclusive show. Many even thanked the brand via Instagram comments.

"REAL PEOPLE, real bodies!!!!" one person wrote with the hashtag "inclusion matters."

"PLT really just changed the whole game with this! Thank you," commented another.

The representation in Miami didn't stop there.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's runway show also took center stage with its efforts to highlight different types of beauty on the runway on Saturday with the inclusion of women like Kathy Jacobs, Natalie Mariduena and Natalie Gage.

"This is what Runway domination at 57 years old and 5'2" tall looks like on the surface," Jacobs, who is Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's oldest rookie, captioned a video on Instagram. "What you don't see are the years of hundreds of rejections, discipline, heartbreak, and balls to the wall perseverance behind what it took to be in this short video! Fake it till you make it. If you fall down get back up and try again!"

Mariduena, who was praised for representing "normal" body types when she was announced as a 2021 rookie, also shared her disbelief on social media.

"Pinch me," she captioned a slideshow of photos from her moments on the runway.

"I love seeing not only healthy but realistic body types in fashion shows like this," someone commented.

Gage, who embraced her natural body and natural hair, continued the conversation about acceptance of diverse body types with her own post.

"Regardless of what size I've been, I've always had a resounding love & respect for my body. Full acceptance of every inch of my body inside & out," she wrote. "Trends come & go but what will never go out of fashion is true self acceptance & self love. It's an energy, it's a feeling, it's a continuous journey, it's contagious, it's mind & more importantly it's yours to have too. I found it a long time ago & I hope you all find it too as it's truly liberating."

And while Gage was praised for being a "queen," Honey Birdette scored brownie points for showstopping appearances by some RuPaul's Drag Race favorites, including Aquaria, Violet Chachki and Carmen Carrera.

Boohoo was also celebrated for highlighting different body types in its first ever fashion show.

The brand even ended with a bang by having Nikita Dragun — a transgender YouTuber who spoke out about Victoria's Secret's lack of transgender models — close the runway.

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