Say My Name: Model Activist Lizzie Swanson

Lizzie Swanson is a model who wants to make a difference. Passionate about issues from refugees to gun violence and women’s rights, she has been demonstrating and using her platform to show support for what she believes in.

 

Lizzie represented the United States when she took part in the Elite Model Look World Final 2016, when she landed a place in the Top 15. Since, she has modelled for brands like Azzedine Alaia, Dior and Valentino.

 

Above, Lizzie takes part in the Women’s Rights March 2017, the first major protest following Donald Trump’s inauguration, when Lizzie was too young to vote but felt passionate about the election and the results. Below, we catch up with Lizzie about using your power from the catwalk to make a difference, the issues closest to her heart, and how you can get involved in making a difference.

I grew up with a mindset of helping others

I've been interested in public health and refugee aid for a long time now, as I have relatives in public health and involved in refugee aid. My family has always been involved in working to help others and doing their part in the community on both a small scale and a world scale. 

Get involved, no matter what your age

Last fall, one of my favorite classes at New York University was Health and Society in a Global Context. It focused on how health is influenced by factors such as age, gender, culture, race/ethnicity, social class, and geography. I studied how social, behavioural, historical and political factors influence public health in community, national, and global contexts. Volunteer options are not as plentiful for those of us who are under 21, but there are still ways to get involved and be educated on the issues. 

Americans need to remember that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants

Unless you are a Native American, your ancestors immigrated to this country. In certain countries like Syria and Guatemala, refugees are fleeing violence and we should give them refuge. We must offer support and reach out to local and global organizations to aid those in need. By turning people away, other countries will follow suit. This issue is very relevant today because this administration paints immigrants as threatening and dangerous, instilling fear rather than empathy. 

I am a very strong advocate for women's rights

I went to the first Women's Rights March in Washington D.C. in January of 2017 after President Trump was elected, and I went to the march this year in New York City. 

The issue of gun violence is personal for me

I grew up 30 minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary School. My school was in lockdown and I remember that day like it was yesterday. I attended the March For Our Lives this past spring. Demonstrating is a very empowering experience. Being in a large, diverse crowd of people who all share the same passion to voice their opinions brings hope for change. It is a reminder that in times of trouble, we stand strong together. 

I want to spend my life giving back

In the future, I would love to be a part of an organisation such as the International Rescue Committee, Amnesty International, or UNICEF. My ultimate dream is to become involved with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Models have a voice - we should use it!

The fashion industry in helping create a better world. Having such a high global platform, those in the industry should use their notoriety to be advocates for issues they feel strongly about. There certainly are many, such as Christy Turlington, Liya Kebede and Kenneth Cole, all of whom have used their global platforms to raise awareness of issues they feel passionate about. When people like that take a stand, their followers, in turn, are educated on an important issues and hopefully become involved. 

Get involved!

Although it's hard for people like me with fluctuating work schedules to commit to certain days to volunteer, it’s still possible to find opportunities in your community. Read the newspaper, talk with others who are involved in organizations, and become educated on what's going on in the world around you!

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