Disability ≠ Less Attractive (Part 2)

922779_10151547180349485_414456551_nIn my previous post, I talked about the reaction I always get at formal events when people see me with Erica Kane (that’s my cane’s name). At some point, someone says to me, “You look great.  Can I take a picture of you?  Just put away your cane because it ruins your dress.”  But beauty doesn’t end where disability begins.  I ended by asking you, “What is beauty?”  While everyone  has their own definition of beauty, the influence of the fashion industry (for better and for worse) cannot be denied.  When the average person sees 200 ads a day, fashion impacts impressionable youth and adults (male and female) who have body image issues.  Thankfully, some fashion campaigns are now including models with disabilities.  

Diesel and Nordstrom: Signs of Progress

Diesel-Jillian-MercadoDiesel’s artistic director, Nicola Formichetti, cast, Jillian Mercado, a 26-year old with muscular dystrophy in Diesel’s spring 2014 campaign called “We Are Connected.”  Mercado is a wheelchair-bound fashion editor and blogger.  Mercado told the Daily Mail that she wants the ad to give hope to people who are maybe saying, “My life is over” because they are disabled.  “You can totally do it, nothing should be stopping you.”  As someone with Myasthenia Gravis who has many friends with muscular dystrophy, I find Diesel’s campaign inspiring.  In addition to Diesel, Nordstrom Inc. included models with disabilities in their summer 2014 catalog.  Two of those models included a woman in a wheelchair and man with a prosthetic leg who was modeling Nike shoes.

UnknownModels of Diversity 

556115_2918842502583_731881885_nBut what gives me the most hope for diversity in the fashion industry is a nonprofit campaign called Models of Diversity (MoD).  MoD’s mission is to see greater diversity in fashion with older models, models of color, larger models, shorter models (including little people), and models with disabilities.  Angel Sinclair, a former model, is the founder of MoD.  MoD wants to change the way the industry thinks and see it represent the needs of all the fashion public.  You can learn more about MoD from the video below, “Catwalk 4 Change” and follow them on Twitter.    MoD had a breathtaking spread in the September issue of Handistrong.  Fashionably ill was also featured in that issue on the editor’s “Favorite Things List.”

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a model with a disability, you can join this Facebook group.

What Is Beauty To You?

While society still has a ways to go in how it treats people with disabilities, changes in the fashion industry give me hope.  Hope for a world where disability ≠ less attractive.  Hope for a world where illness and beauty are not seen as mutually exclusive.  Hope for a world where everyone is invited to the party.  Your turn:  What do you consider beautiful?  Who is beautiful to you?  Until my next post, you can catch me and other Fashionably ill (FI) readers on Facebook.

Meet Me on Facebook!

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Like Fashionably ill‘s page here: https://www.facebook.com/fashionablyill!

Twitter-icon-vectorYou can also follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/JessicaGimeno

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno

 

JessicaGimeno

Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

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