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Last updateWed, 23 Aug 2017 8am

Opinion

Modelling World Makes Positive Move Towards Showcasing Disabilities

disabilities modelingThis year the fashion industry has made significant moves for representation equality during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NYC. To begin, mega-retailer Macy’s premiered last week with their “Go Red for Women” campaign on the catwalk, showcasing a line of clothing (all stunning red dresses) in the first-ever collaboration to fight against heart disease in women, backed by The American Heart Association.  “Macy’s has brought awareness [of heart disease] to consumers across America and has raised $46 million for the cause,” goredforwomen.org stated. 

It is only appropriate that the American Heart Association had a part in kicking off this year’s show, because shortly after fashion week began things started to look a bit…different. 

On Feb. 12, 2015, a new campaign was launched on the runway. Role Models Not Runway Models by designer Carrie Hammer set the stage by showcasing her line modeled by people with disabilities. This included American Horror Story actress Jamie Brewer, who is now, remarkably, the first model with Down syndrome to strut down the runway during Fashion Week. 

On Feb. 17, Brewer’s debut was followed by FTL MODA which incorporated models in wheelchairs to raise awareness on spinal cord injuries by teaming with Fondazione Vertical. “One cat-walker, who was missing part of her arm, strutted in a black cutout outfit and her muscular body was spray-painted silver,” US Magazine commented of the show. 

During the FTL MODA show at The Salon at Lincoln Center on Feb. 18, amputee male model Jack Eyers strutted down the runway. The model and personal trainer later stated that he wanted to “show that having a disability doesn’t hold you back.” 

Courtney Carr, a senior communication student, commented on how happy she was to see the fashion world opening up. “It’s very important to, not only educate everyone, but physically show them all that there are people in this world with a variety of disabilities. It’s just as important for a person with a disability to feel loved and accepted in this world just like everyone else,” Carr said. 

“This idea of people with disabilities being out and about in society is still a very new thing for some people, so I think exposure is a very great stepping stone to building awareness, which leads us to another stepping stone to building acceptance,” Carr continued.  

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has definitely opened those doors and exposed true beauty this year. Hopefully this trend continues to grow in following years, and the fashion industry will open up to more diverse groups of models and agencies. 

This is such a new phenomenon in the industry which proves that, finally, fashion can be more than just thin, tall, trained, blank-faced models. This show demonstrated that there is beauty in everyone (no matter if you have a disability).

It was a bold move for the designers and companies that chose to take that route, and it has certainly opened the doors for more diversity and acceptance now. 

Hopefully, the trend continues in the upcoming years, and society’s expectation on what “beauty” and “fashion” is can be swayed. 

The groundwork has now been laid, and I suspect that these models and designers will continue what they have started, and more agencies will follow as well. 

IMAGE TAKEN from Huffington Post

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