In this beautifully diverse world we live in, we all deserve representation in fashion. Beauty should never be defined by ability, colour, race, shape, size, sexuality or gender choice. Why do we not see disabled models on the catwalk, fashion magazines or beauty campaigns? It is like disabled people do not exist, let alone be beautiful or fashionable. There are only two driving forces of emotions in life; one is love and one is fear. People fear disability.
I am not disabled by my missing hand; I am disabled by the attitudes of society and the lack of opportunities as a disabled model. I have an 18 month old son and he speaks to my arm like it’s a little animal – he pretends to feed my arm food, says hello, waves and cuddles and kisses my arm. Strange he never does that to my hand? He does not judge or sees my arm as something negative or to fear. If you are surrounded by difference, you are more accepting of difference. My son will grow up embracing and celebrating diversity with me as his mum and his dad being mixed race. Naturally, he’ll be open-minded, empathetic, sensitive and compassionate – this makes me feel super proud.
I want every young person to know true beauty lies in realness, authenticity, uniqueness, your weird and wonderfulness, your quirks, flaws and imperfections because it is these very things which make you, YOU! Young disabled people have extra challenges when it comes to body confidence. Can you imagine flicking through a magazine and never seeing anyone remotely like you being represented?
I remember years back, a teenage girl with a missing hand contacted me for body confidence advice. At the time she was really struggling with her self-image and always wore her prosthesis (despite it being so uncomfortable and getting in the way), I never liked prosthesis’ – they are so ugly, heavy, fake, disabling and I feel are there to only make you appear ‘normal’. I can’t remember exactly what said to her, but a few years later, she contacted me again to say how thankful she was for my advice. She never wears her prosthesis and is so much better without it, is going into her third year at university studying photography and made lots of new friends. She said deciding to contact me was the best decision of her life because I gave her the inspiration to be a much more confident, happier person.
Through my work as a model, writer and speaker I want to empower every young disabled person.