Disability in the beauty and fashion industry – WHERE IS IT?

Hi everyone! 🙂

Today I’m going to be talking about (the lack of!) disability in media, specifically the beauty and fashion industry.

Like many, I’ve always loved and followed the latest beauty and fashion trends!
I love to feel like I’m looking good and even more importantly feeling good about myself and my body image.

Growing up with a disability, as I’ve said in previous blog posts I never accepted my body and I absolutely hated it – I just wanted to be like the women that I saw in magazines.. perfect, thin, beautiful, two legs.. you get the picture!

I’d look at those ladies and wish I had their body; I felt disgusting being an amputee because I had never accepted my disability and I felt totally abnormal missing a limb.

I’m from the UK, so here are a few examples of the popular fashion brands & beauty companies I have seen advertised on TV and billboards growing up throughout my life:

BOOTS UK
SUPERDRUG UK
M&S UK
NEW LOOK UK
RIVER ISLAND UK
ZARA UK
MAC UK
HOUSE OF FRASER UK

Now.. I have shopped in almost all of those shops and spent my money there – I’m a disabled customer.. so I have to ask – why are disabled people NEVER asked to model for these companies?!

Disabled people are buying these products so surely we should be helping in advertising them, too?

I believe if I had seen disabled, diverse people modelling for these companies growing up I would’ve had a much better relationship with my own body.
If I had just been able to see someone that I could relate to up on that billboard loving themselves and being proud of who they are I genuinely think it would’ve changed my childhood!

I don’t want my future children to grow up seeing a false image of perfection (photo-shopped images) shoved in their faces and making them feel low and self conscious about their own bodies.

I want to live in a world where diverse beauty is celebrated and encouraged!
I want to walk through my local town centre and see billboards from fashion companies all over the world using disabled models and being proud to do so.

I’m not strictly talking about disability, either.
I’m talking about REAL diversity; men and women with everyday bodies you’d pass walking on the street, models with scars, stretch marks, tattoos, piercings, coloured hair, big, small, thin, tall and ALL the rest!

I’m not discriminating against any type of body – I think every and any body (as long as it is healthy) should be celebrated and shown on billboards and advertisements across the world.

I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with a lovely lady called Fiona at @trinketsjewelry and she has a fantastic campaign called Every Body In Ads; she encourages women of all colours, abilities, shapes and sizes to take part in her campaign and model her beautiful handmade jewellery.

pffd
Modelling for Trinkets Jewellery

Above is one of my modelling photos for Fiona!
I chose not to include my prosthetic leg in the pictures, but working with Fiona completely bought my self confidence to an all time high.

I couldn’t believe that I was asked to model.. me, an amputee, actually modelling something for a company?!

I was over the moon and it still stands as one of my happiest moments!
I feel so proud and so honored to be a model for Fiona and her fantastic campaign;
click HERE for the website!

I have tweeted some of the companies that I previously mentioned in this post about including disabled models in their advertising and they all had a very similar reply along the lines of:

“Hi Amy! We always value diversity when choosing our models”

..I can’t help but feel this is a slight cop out!
If they were valuing diversity, surely in the 20 years I’ve been alive I would’ve seen at least ONE company in the UK use a disabled model on a TV advertisement or a billboard somewhere.. right?!

As much as we are still fighting for diversity and equality on catwalks today, there have been some diamonds in the rough when looking at disability in the industry.. below is an example of a fashion designer embracing diversity:

Fashion designer promotes diversity at New York Fashion Week

We have a long way to go yet, but it’s great that we seem to be making progress even if it’s slowly.

I’ll always continue to support charities like Models of Diversity because they are the people that can make a true difference to the media world and how people with disabilities are portrayed!

Here is a quote from Angel Sinclair (founder of Models of Diversity) on diversity in the modelling industry:

“If you go into a shop and you see that the brand doesn’t have any representation of you in their advertising, email them, and ask them why? That’s what we do and we encourage our members to do the same”

Angel is correct!

The best thing that we can do together is to call out places that aren’t representing US.

The more we spread the message and fight for fair representation across all colours, abilities and everything else the closer we will get to making people listen to us.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post – and please feel free to reach out to me using my social media located at the top right of this page!

Continue the fight with me, together we can change the world! ❤

 

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