Friday, April 17, 2009

Roll Models, Disability in Fashion

Are people ready for something different? What if the something different is really reality? The fashion world is waking up and embracing more and more real beautiful women. Plus size models, size 14 and up, are finally becoming more accepted and commonplace. Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano both have cast plus-size models in their Paris shows.

How often do we see the fashion industry pay attention to the reported one in five Americans alone who are disabled people out here? People like to see themselves represented and like to have their specific needs addressed.

Trend de la creme had a very good post. Brace Yourself about the world of fashion and persons with disabilities. "When fashion editor Mireya Navarro of the new York Times wrote, "The public image of people with disabilities has often hinged on the heroic or the tragic." This is changing, too. Disabled persons are emerging more publicly as role models in the fields of business, sports and other media.

England has Britain's Missing Top Model. The New York Daily News interviewed the winner, Kelly Knox, who was born without a left forearm. "I feel passionately about going out there and proving that disability and beauty goes as well together as do peaches and cream," she said.

Beauties in Motion was an international contest for models in wheelchairs. Wheeliechix-chic offered designer clothes to women in wheelchairs and had runway shows of its own.

As her blog stated, Heather Whitestone McCallum, who has been profoundly deaf since she was eighteen months old, became the first Miss America with a disability on September 17th, 1994. Fifteen-year-old Maryelen Loughran very recently made it to the final heat of Teen Princess UK, a national modeling contest. She was born with one hand, and she has various medical conditions.

Padma Lakshmi is a model and host of tv's 'Top Chef.' as well as being a cookbook author. She has enjoyed a successful career despite having a scar on her right upper arm, a scar she got in a car crash when she was 14 years old. Now she's something of a role model, too.

In a 2001 Vogue interview, she said, "People have told me that my scar makes me seem more approachable, more vulnerable; that it inspires a certain tenderness. Ironically, the greatest gift fashion has given me is the courage to expose what is most vulnerable, to be proud of my body. Including my scar." She recently added jewelry designer to her resume and was interviewed by Harpers Bazaar.

On April 15th, Chloe, a lifestyle magazine for women with disabilities premiered. Chloe's Change the World Fashion Showcases will be featured Abilities Expos this year in New Jersey, Anaheim, Chicago and Atlanta. Logan, a magazine for young people with disabilities, has been around since 2006.

2010 Update: Models of Diversity is hosting an event July 29th. An Evening of Diversity will be held at The Millennium Hotel Knightsbridge in London. From their web site: "This will include disabled, mature, and plus size models, including 5 world-class models (such as Kelly Knox, winner of Britain's Missing Top Model), with opening and closing bands for entertainment."

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