Model, Neelam Gill made waves in the fashion community as the first model of Indian descent to be featured in a campaign for British luxury brand, Burberry. She has since, walked in numerous runway shows, including Kanye West x Adidas, and appeared in campaigns for TopShop and magazines including British Vogue, Glamour, Lucky, Elle and more.
As of late, the Indian beauty has been seen posing in the latest campaign for Abercrombie & Fitch. The brand is changing creative direction based upon customer feedback and critics who have called them out for their lack of diversity and oversexualized visuals in advertising. According to their SVP of marketing, Neelam is their answer and the first step to their rebranding strategy. Not only are Indian models a rarity in major campaigns, but Gill has now become a diversity advocate by default.
In an interview with Elle last year, Neelam expressed that she does as much as she can to raise awareness about diversity in the industry. She also exposes what we all know too well..the pitfalls of being a model of color in the industry.
“People don’t realize that although a lot of designers are open to diverse casting now, a lot of other ones just think it’s easier to use girls that look the same and have the same aesthetic. Some shows have line-ups that look like robots. They all have blonde hair and pale skin, and you can’t tell them apart. I don’t think people realize what I have to go through, and how much harder it is for me to get modeling jobs. But that just motivates me because when I get them, I get so much support.”
It is wonderful to see that two established brands have noticed Neelam and placed her in position to represent true beauty, no matter what her background or ethnicity is! Even better, she is leveraging her huge social media following of young and impressionable women and using her platform for good. She consistently advocates for more diversity, all the while addressing bullying, the media and self-esteem.
Believe it or not, Neelam has experienced so much hate since becoming famous..even more so because of rumors that she was dating Zayn Malik (of One Directon). She claims to have seen comments such as “She is Black as f***”, or “Like that refugee I saw on TV!” That’s terrible, but it is our reality. In her video (below), she says she is human and still struggles with really down days. She addresses society, beauty, internet trolls/bullies, self-love and depression. We love that she is humble, yet taking some real action. We also hear that her model bestie is Jourdan Dunn! Hey now! This history-making model is well on her way to the top. Aren’t you just loving her more and more?!
Images via: Paper Mag, Liam Warwick, Elle India, Abercrombie & Fitch, Burberry
Neelam is on Instagram @NeelamKG