Last month, WRUW released a project we had worked on in order to fight for inclusion. It weighed heavy on our hearts and we felt it needed, no, must be done. When it comes to the creative and fashion industry, there simply is not enough representation. Since then, more brands have followed suit, including Teen Vogue.
In a recent article, Keah Brown, a writer, journalist, activist and with cerebral palsy wrote about disability and representation for the famous fashion publisher. Keah expresses what it’s like to live with cerebral palsy and how it’s seen by strangers.
“People feel they have the right to assume that I was in some mysterious car accident (I wasn’t), or to walk up to me and ask questions about my body,” she states.
“No one likes to be judged unfairly. It is dehumanizing and traumatizing. When you are a person with a disability, feeling like people are looking at you or judging you is one of the most fraught experiences.”
Keah continued to showcase models who like her, had a disability. To be blunt, I personally hate the word disability. People to me are people. And just like some of us can swim, some of us can’t. We are all humans with some things we can do, and somethings we can’t.
Back to the Teen Vogue article, she explains more about the models.
“Chelsea Werner, a gymnast and model with Down syndrome; Jillian Mercado, a model with spastic muscular dystrophy; and Mama Cax, a blogger, model, amputee, and disability advocate, all know this experience firsthand.”
Over the years, models were stick thin figures with whatever look was popular during the era. A model basically was something no one could achieve and that was what made them a model. But what good did that do to the world? Keah points out in the Teen Vogue article brands like Aerie, have began showing disabled models, creating a whole new look at beauty – and one that should be looked at more closely according to WRUW.
But when we place disabled people into the world of fashion, as Keah mentions, people “don’t know what to do with it.” But this is a demand that’s made by WRUW in our #ReflectMeLike campaign. There should be all types of us seen in models.
Keah wrote in her article:
“Growing up, Jillian remembers never seeing disabled models in fashion or entertainment. ‘There wasn’t anyone who looked like me in any magazines or mainstream media, TV, or anything. It excluded me from something that I was very passionate about. It was definitely confusing because I knew my worth in the world. I knew that there’s [so many] people out there like me, but we are never included in any conversations.’”
Luckily, fashion and creative brands are finally understanding this – slowly, but surely. While different shapes, colors, and cultures are starting to be included, disabled models are not. How can we push for the rest if we don’t push for it all? We simply can’t.
Mama Cax started blogging about her fashion showing off her amputee leg and in return received hundred of messages from women who had never seen an amputee on social media. In the article she stresses that it’s important to showcase and represent everyone in every shape and form.
Model Jillian use to hide her body on social media because she was ashamed. Creating more women in the media like Jillian shows women how beautiful they are and how beautiful they are to the world. She finally embraced who she was, but think of all the ladies out there who are reliving her moment!
And guess what happens when we indulge in inclusion? It increases a positive brand. According to the article, Aerie’s sales increased by 38% because people appreciated what the brand was doing and saw themselves in their items.
Another brand is Tommy Adaptive, who created clothing that included disabled people in their creative work. It has the same Tommy Hilfiger look, but with modifications making life easier, functional and discreet. How did they do this? They brought disabled influencers and leaders into the board room. That is what WRUW demands. Do you we not remember what happened with Revolve? How could this of happened? Because the boardroom was lacking voices.
The article goes on to state how everyone is worried of insulting, and rather than bring someone in, they just don’t get involved. This is not right.
You can see what other brands are doing in the article by clicking here, and we applaud them. WRUW is hoping to lead the way when it comes to inclusion and hope you all partake in our #ReflectMeLike campaign.
The article ends with a statement similar to WRUW’s post in August. That the amazing humans above mentioned above are unapologetic when it comes to changing what a model should be and aren’t taking “no” for an answer. Watch an amazing BTS video and each models’ points below
By Staci Wuokko