Fashion week is renowned for lacking diversity and whilst things are improving, the pace at which it’s happening is slow. You’ll often hear about a diverse show, or even just one diverse model, in the media because it’s an event that still doesn’t seem to have been adopted as a regular occurrence, as the ideal baseline. As a disabled woman I rarely see myself represented, whether it be on the catwalk or just in media adverts, I don’t often see a body like mine. Disabled people aren’t the only ones who are under or mispresented during fashion week though, representation is lacking for people of colour, LGBT people (especially transgender people), plus size people etc, I could go on.
Teatum Jones comes to mind when I think of the most diverse shows, with disabled model Kelly Knox who has walked for them before being someone I always think of when I’m asked about disabled models. People like her are doing amazing work to help increase diversity within the fashion industry and things are changing but it’s estimated that one in five people have a disability and we just aren’t seeing this reflected within fashion week, and the industry as a whole.
As a powerchair user I’m usually what people think of when they think of a disabled person but those with invisible disabilities, learning disabilities etc aren’t immediately thought of and so representation for these groups can be even more scarce. Zebedee Management, a modelling agency specifically for disabled models, are trying to change things though by representing a wide range of disabled people.
Their recent EverybodyBeautiful campaign was inspiring to me as a disabled person, it made me want to join them in the photoshoots. The body positivity and proudness of their identity that was displayed is something that fashion week is very much in need of. We all know that the public is screaming out for models that look like them and when 20% of us have a disability, that includes disabled bodies. Many people often say that we cannot represent everyone, but I say, why not?