Words are powerful

Words can inspire, empower, motivate, lift your spirits and give you joy and happiness.

Equally, words can make you feel useless, anxious, depressed, not worthy, hurt and lower your self-esteem.

Words Make. Works Break.

Words are like a magical powder or a deadly potion.

Words can give you the courage to follow your dreams, or stop you from even trying.

Words have the power to heal, build and create.

Words are energy and energy is everything.

A few weeks back, I was asked to “parade” in a fashion show for “valid” and “invalid” models. As you can imagine I was alarmed at this use of language. Describing a model like me as invalid or an invalid portrays the individual to be weak, sick, not whole, suffering and useless. This is the exact type of language I want to remove from society’s minds.

I see all human beings as “valid” people regardless of their ability, colour, size, gender choice or age.

This request came from overseas, and I understand the use of language is different but this language has been used and accepted for so long has it now becomes the norm. Handicapped, wheelchair bound, deaf and dumb, special needs… I can’t believe these terms are still used in 2016.

Handicapped – it sounds so wrong and dated doesn’t it? Leave that word for horse-racing.

Wheelchair bound is used far too much. People who “use” wheelchairs are not permanently stuck to their wheelchairs.

People who are hard of hearing are not dumb. The absence of hearing does not equal absent intelligence.

What is a special need?

It is time to change the way we feel and think about disability and this can only be achieved by positive language and more visibility in the media. Whether this is in fashion, on TV or in journalism – disabled people need to be seen, heard and talked about in the right and truthful way.

Reading or hearing this type of language can make people believe this is what disabled people are.

I viewed last years “parade” on YouTube – the styling was dated, unfashionable, dowdy and the show did not wow me. Seeing this type of show will not convince an audience that disabled models are cool and trendy. We need to be of high calibre. Strong, powerful, high fashion, couture…. To prove we have every right to be on that runway like every other professional model.

Disabled people are human too – we are not a separate entity and we are not un-whole.

Plus size modelling started not too many years ago – now plus size models are celebrated and embraced globally.

What was the invisible is now the visible. The same can happen for disabled models.

I say disabled people, not people with disabilities because even though we are people first, we are disabled by the language barriers created by society, not by our impairment.

There is a lack of opportunities for this new generation of models – these barriers need to be broken.

The fashion industry is becoming more accepting of disability, but there is still a long way to go.

Diversity is the present, diversity is the future.

Disability is part of the diversity agenda.

Believe in it. Embrace it. Celebrate it.

It is the best feeling in the world when you connect with like-minded people on the same mission as you; people who believe in diversity, equality and inclusion, people who see beauty in imperfections, people who lift others, people who see beyond rose tinted glasses, people who are passionate about the future generations and are committed to making this world a happier, more joyful, loving, inspiring, empowering, lighter, brighter place.