Catwalking in Wheelchairs Promoting diversity on the runway with Wheelchair-bound Models

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By 2017-08-05

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By Shehani Alwis

Runways are usually for the good looking and who we often dub as perfect. If one dreams of being a successful model on the ramp there's so much to master through practice: the catwalk, the moderated countenance, balancing the body as a whole.For a person who can't meet those requirements entering the fashion industry would be nearly impossible. The chances are even more limited for a person with a disability.

The term'disabled' is used to describe a person with a physical or mental condition that limits a his or her movements, senses, or activities.As the world progresses, definitions of certain words have been given much wider and more comprehensive meaning.

Consequently, the term 'differently abled' came to be known as an all-embracing word to describe individuals with certain physical incapacities. That modified reference helps them focus more on the positive aspects of life and overlook what is lacking.

The fashion industry seems to be striving towards creating a more inclusive and approachable space for a group of people that could be considered diversely beautiful. There have been fashion shows throughout the world that have opened their ramp to models across a variety of skin tones. Such thoughtfulness has been applauded by fashion admirers and critiques alike for being as racially diverse as they could be.

It is reported that the 2017 fall season was by far the most diverse in terms of race. The participation of models of various ethnicities for such an event in the New York city, has been a definite highlight. Surely there's much more to be done. The world has high expectations on the fashion world, that models of varying gender identities, colour, sizes and age will one day be accommodated. It would warrant that a majority of individuals in societywould be able to relate to those catwalking on ramp.

A breakthrough in the face of fashion transpired on Feb 15, 2017 when a group of models who were disabled where given the opportunity to hit the spot light. A fashion company with its roots in Italy (FTL MODA) engaged disabled models to feature in the runway show of the New York fashion week. The models represented various forms of disabilities as well. Some were wheelchair-bound while others were amputees or walked on canes. The most inspiring part of it was that none of the disabled models let their physical ailments get in the way of making an all new fashion statement that was bound to change the future of fashion. It was certainly a very bold political statement of sorts too.

How each of them carried themselves on ramp, left the world in awe and they've definitely become trend- setters.The first woman to be on the runway at New York Fashion Week in a wheelchair is Dr. Danielle Sheypuk. She made history at the Carrie hammer fashion shoe in New York city and she was ecstatic that the doors of fashion that had long been shut for persons with disabilities is now open and welcoming diversity. She says, "I feel like the industry has gotten more accepting of diversity but you never hear of a model in a wheelchair and it's just ludicrous. Fashion is about dressing the body that you have. It doesn't matter what disability you have, or if you have one. It's about knowing what to accentuate."

Dr. Sheypuk's statement comes in at a very timely hour because the fashion world is currently undergoing some rebranding of its own. Since time immemorial, the fashion industry has been labeled as a field full of judgment, discrimination and unrealistic standards. Making room for diversity has long been in the conversation and finally put in action. There's surely a long way to go and still for all here's a promising beginning.



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