Do Disabled People Belong In The Fashion Industry?

I've often thought to myself, being a 'part time' wheelchair user myself and considering myself to be disabled, why are there no disabled women (and if there are, very few) being represented within the fashion industry - or other appearance driven industries for that matter.

Last week New York Fashion Week marked the first time a model 'walked' down the catwalk in a wheelchair, during the Carrie Hammer show. I think this is a truly great milestone and the model Dr Danielle Sheypuk looked glowing and fantastic. However I am sure there are some people out there who think that disabled people don't belong in the face of fashion, least of all the catwalks. 

Danielle on the runway and being photographed in Carrie Hammer Source Mail Online

Disabled people, people with disabilities, or physical abnormalities are all people. People who may or may have an interest in fashion, just like able bodied people may or may not have an interest in fashion. However interested or not, we all wear clothes, disabled people included. The question on my lips is where are disabled people being represented? Where are the lines pitched and aimed towards that market group? Plus size models, models of different ethnicity's, models of different ages are starting to be seen on the catwalks more and more, and they all have various lines and labels aimed at delivering pieces suitable for their group, but the category in question are being left behind somewhat.

The reason I think Carrie Hammer chose to present Danielle is because she specialises in custom pieces. She said she wanted to cast role models, not runway models. I think this is possibly one of the best things I have heard or seen so far this year. Progress is being made, slowly, but it is 2014 and it is about time equality amongst all groups was put into place. I hope last weeks event will be the start of the world seeing more disabled people being used and represented within the fashion industry, and being considered and thought about more upon manufacture and marketing. 

Danielle with fellow models Source Mail Online /

I have asked myself this question many times:
"If a person had the most beautiful, photogenic, unique face in the world with the possibility of becoming the next Twiggy, or the next Kate, or the next Tyra, but they were physically disabled in some way, would they make it? Would we see their face on the cover of vogue, and plastered on billboards and adverts worldwide?"

My answer would be YES! Absolutely, because their disability doesn't change anything, in fact it probably adds more uniqueness to the campaign and captivates peoples minds more because it generally isn't the done thing. What do you think? I'd be very interested to hear your opinions on this topic, leave them in a comment below :)

x Hayley-Eszti

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  1. An interesting question, Hayley-Exzti, there would probably be a few hurdles but why not. Disabled people have been used in adverts here in BC by some companies. Just as the disabled have their sports competitions, why not fashion shows being inclusive as well.

    Take care of yourself. You have an inquisitive mind. That's a good thing.

    1. I agree, the disabled have the chance to excel within sports, and are given lots of opportunities as a result of that, but just as they have their talents there, those who have a talent or gift for modelling or performance or whatever it may be should be given the chance to shine too! I just think certain areas are lacking behind a bit, fashion being one of them.
      & thanks for the compliment D.G!

  2. Why don't you try being the breakthrough model? I think many models are selected for how the clothes will hang on them at least with high fashion but obviously with a wheelchair the clothes do not 'hang' so to speak, being bent at the middle and obviously not getting to display the back. Still fashion certainly has a place for the disabled. Anything that makes you feel good about ourselves. Maybe it's something we could consider a spoonie fashion show. xx

    1. Ha! Sian you funny girl! But I do get that, designers want to show their line the best way they can, and high fashion especially always look a certain way on the runway, but what I think is so great about Carrie Hanmer is that she chose real women, because at the end of the day real women are the people wearing the clothes. A spoonie fashion show would be great! We should try and make it happen... No idea how we would do it though!

  3. I think that what you see on the fashion runways, still, in 2014 are primarily thin, white, girls. I know good fashion is now available for plus size women, I know there are a few absolutely stunning black models, but most models look like they've always looked. At least here in the United States. I'm not interested in fashion myself, but now that you have raised this issue, I would love to see women with, say Down's syndrome, which is what my sister had, walking the runway. With their wonderful personalities and great smiles, they should be a success. And, as you proved in this post, models in wheelchairs, could address a large segment of the disabled population. I'm getting excited about this idea, it would be great!

    And, finally, you dear Halyey-Eszti, could be on the cover of any magazine.

    1. I would too! And a line designed and aimed towards people with learning disablities would be great, full of bright colours and patterns to match their personalities, how fun would that fashion show be to watch!
      Haha thank you Inger, although I beg to differ!

  4. This is a good post on a very important topic.......making our society a more inclusive one in all areas/fields.
    I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I know the fashion industry focuses mostly on what they perceive as beauty. I think it would be wonderful if beauty was looked at for more than just 'skin deep' and included more 'ordinary' people. One can dream of that day eh?
    Of course I think that if someone fit the bill as far as fashion beauty goes and they just happen to be 'handicapped', they ought to be included with able-bodied models.
    As with most things in our world, if it makes money then it would become the norm. We just have to demand it!
    And I agree with Inger, Hayley-Eszti, you could easily lead the way and show that there is a place for all people in this industry. And not just because of your looks but also for your intelligence and compassion.

  5. I read your stories on readwave, you are a talented writer, you have a great thing going here with this blog, keep it up. Jenny

  6. Fascinating question and not one I'd ever thought of in those terms. Although I've always known that 'real' people don't appear on catwalks. I'm not a conventional shape myself. Surgeons did their best over several years but I'm never going to be 'normal'. So I've always accepted that I wouldn't be there.

    Never thought about the challenges of being in a wheelchair. And more importantly - why those questions aren't addressed by the fashion industry.

    Good post.

  7. And the sad part of all this is that disabled people are not represented in the fashion industry at all... as neither do "fat" people, or people with acne... the list is long...

    Fashion industry sells perfection and globality... and sadly being disabled or not perfect in some kind of way it´s not ok for fashion standars. We all should pursue imposible estereotipes instead of accept differences.

    I´m glad to see Danielle on the runway, she owned it!!!



  8. YES they absolutely do! I sleep eat breathe equality for all and disabled people are not treated as equals. This is a step in the right direction but if it will continue in the future sadly I don't know.

  9. Best article/blog I've read in a while. I praise anyone who stands up for minority groups, the designer putting a disabled lady on the catwalk is a godess who should be praised! Power to the disabled!

  10. I really think that disabled people have a place within fashion. Remember when lady gaga needed a wheelchair for a while and she made it an art form? There is no reason whatsoever why disabled people, wheelchair or no wheelchair, no matter what their disability should not be included in fashion and media. They are being represented in sport, but not much else. The designer is amazing and I hope to see more catwalks like this one in the future.

    1. Funny you should mention that, I was talking about that with a friend the other day! Lady Gaga rocked the wheelchair, if only we all had the budget for a Louis Vuitton designer chair! I completely agree with you, it shouldn't matter.

  11. yes to disabled people in fashion x

  12. Thanks for writing this, and sharing your views. This has restored my faith in humanity! The media needs to stop selling perfection, and start to aquatint normality and embrace differences. Great post!


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