Quannah Chasinghorse is a cover model with a special look and a special concern
For the May issue, VOGUE Mexico was looking for a cover star who represents “the face of a new generation of models” and found the indigenous model Quannah Chasinghorse, who embodies this in more ways than one. The 18-year-old, who was photographed for the cover by Inez & Vinoodh (in a yellow Valentino dress), is a refreshing addition to the fashion scene: she proudly shows off her traditional tattoos, rocks the authentic Native American style and can do a number of too show impressive activism activities. In doing so, it also breaks down barriers and ensures the urgently needed representation of indigenous people in an industry that has long overlooked and excluded indigenous talent.
Currently based in Fairbanks, Alaska, Chasinghorse – who is Hän Gwich’in and Oglala Lakota – is relatively new to the modeling business. She has lived in Alaska since she was seven and didn’t sign with IMG until December. One of her first big modeling jobs was a role in a Calvin Klein campaign last October, and has since starred in shoots for V and Thunder Voice Hat Co., a native-owned hat company. She says her new VOGUE Mexico cover is completely surreal. “I’ve always wanted to model. But when I grew up, I never saw how indigenous people were represented in fashion or the beauty scene,” says Chasinghorse. “I never grew up feeling confident about the negative stereotypes about Indigenous Americans. But that’s changing now. Today, younger generations will be able to see Indigenous excellence on the covers of magazines – and hopefully everywhere . “
The passionate activist Quannah combines work and cause
Before her foray into the modeling business, Chasinghorse was best known for her activism around indigenous issues and climate change and has gained a large fan base on social media (she currently has 40,000 followers on Instagram alone). In the past, she has fought tirelessly to preserve her state’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – a sprawling 20 million hectare ecosystem that continues to be at risk from global warming – and she continues to use her social media to promote herself for important Using topics like this. “I’m extremely passionate about that [Aktivismusarbeit, die ich mache]”, says Chasinghorse.” I am approached by indigenous young people who tell me that I inspire them to use their voice and to deal more with their identity as an indigenous person. “
Chasinghorse also brings her knowledge and wisdom to her work as a model. With every job she takes, she hopes to educate people about her culture and share her personal experiences. “People forget that we are people who have been through so much,” says Chasinghorse. “They forget history, let alone even know it – it has been made invisible for years. But we’re starting to see more indigenous people being upgraded and included, and it’s great to be a part of it.” One way she brings her culture to the modeling industry is through her love of indigenous fashion. For a recent V shoot, for example, she wore some indigenous jewelry she had made herself. “For many years our culture and our sacred symbols became [angeeignet]”Says Chasinghorse, who adds that she loves bringing authentic pieces that she and her family have made to the forefront of the fashion world.” My grandmother and aunts are the ones who taught me how to work with pearls embroider. “
Tribal tattoos represent the will to heal
Chasinghorse also embraces her individuality while modeling through her traditional hanging gwich’in tattoos, called Yidįįłtoo, which are a distinctive part of her signature look. “It makes me feel more confident because I have a part of my ancestry that has been almost completely lost,” says Chasinghorse. She got her first tattoo, a single line running down her chin, at the age of 14. It was made in a hand engraved style by her mother. “My mother taught me about our sacred tattoos from an early age,” says Chasinghorse. “The meaning of my first tattoo revolves around becoming a woman. In my culture, becoming a woman means that she is now able to bear children, get married and take on more responsibility. That involves a ceremony; us always hold a ceremony when we do traditional tattoos. It was such a powerful experience. When I got the tattoo, I really felt connected to a deeper part of myself. “
She got her second traditional tattoo – three dots in the corner of her eye – last year. It was also made by her mother and inspired by a dream she had about her. “I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since elementary school and I realized that I need to focus on healing,” says Chasinghorse. “I had a dream where my mom was tattooing around my eyes and she said, ‘You have to start your healing journey.'” She decided to get the tattoos as a tribute to the resilience and constant healing work that indigenous people have to go through. “I remember when I was finished I felt like a different person,” says Chasinghorse. She wants to keep working on it. “I’m not done with it yet; I want to connect the three dots in a line,” she says.
Quannah Chasinghorse: Your beauty is only one aspect of many
Like all of her activist work and influential fashion decisions, she sees her tattoos as an opportunity to educate others about a lesser-known aspect of her culture. This is particularly strong in an area like the modeling business, where models were once expected to look uniform. “The world is slowly realizing that indigenous people are not only beautiful and strong, but that we have values that are solutions to many of today’s problems, such as the climate crisis,” says Quannah Chasinghorse. Although she loves modeling and fashion in general, she wants to use it for something bigger. “I’m a storyteller,” says Chasinghorse. “I wish I had [jemanden wie mich] as a child, because then I would have had so much more confidence in myself. “
This article appeared in the original on Vogue.com.