Charlotte, North Carolina, US
I love this thread! Here's a bit of my story as a disabled model
I haven't been able to stand or walk since I was 10 years old due to a neuro-muscular disorder. I use a scooter to get around, have a very modified vehicle, and live on my own. Independence is my middle name. I got my bachelors in psychology and went into Americorps. It's like the Peace Corps but in the US. I built houses in New Orleans and chopped down trees to construct an accessible trail for a camp catering to those with disabilities. When I got back I tried to find a job but it's ridiculously difficult. People just brush me off and assume I'm incapable of doing what they need me to do.
Yet I've managed to be successful in the most shallow industry in the world haha. No idea how that works but I'm going with it. I'm working on getting into inspirational speaking. I'd like to use my modeling as a platform to inspire women.
I am currently in the process of getting published and my agent just booked a commercial for me with Bank of America in NYC
Anything is possible when you truly put your mind to it.
Oct 20 12 08:49 pm Link
Middle Island, New York, US
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid … t=1&ref=nf
just saw this
Oct 21 12 07:40 pm Link
Cambridge, Vermont, US
Excited to find this post. It is awesome seeing other women with disabilities in the industry. I'm new here and just launched the following project to shatter limiting paradigms surrounding disability and sexuality -- would love to hear your feedback:
Disabled Woman Sparks Sexual Revolution
October 24, 2012 – For immediate release
CAMBRIDGE, VT – A disabled woman, semi-bedridden by a severe neuromuscular disease for nearly a decade, emerges to launch a controversially explicit erotic art collection entitled “Ecstasy of a Cripple: The Resurrection of Passion,” geared to shatter societal perceptions on disability and sexuality. Jocelyn Woods, 27, born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), has launched a global fundraising campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/ecstasyofacripple) and will pose nude and semi-nude before the lens of Atlanta-based photographer/artist Thomas Dodd to document orgasmic raptures experienced in what she describes as “erotic union with the flaming core of the Divine.”
Woods, unable to stand or walk and requiring attendant care for daily living, is receiving global support and acknowledgement for declaring an unprecedented sexual revolution. Carl Barbarotto, author from Washington D.C., remarks “[Ecstasy of a Cripple] is mystic truth with those who have ears to hear and eyes to see."
Within days of launching the IndieGoGo campaign, a flurry of letters flooded in response to her call to raise $5,639 by November 4. “Voices rise up in praise across the earth,” says Woods, “as the imprisonment and suppression of themes deemed ‘taboo’ are released. While society has established the trend of hiding disability behind closed doors, I prefer instead to use my crippled form as a vehicle of expression. The disrobing of my flesh is the proxy by which an international cry of freedom is being celebrated.” Supporters include Playboy Model Alex van Zeelandt, Broadway legend and feminist Reverend Wanda Richert and New Pre-Raphaelite Movement founder Anna Louise May.
SMA is the number one genetic killer of children before age two. “Statistics are self-fulfilling prophecies held in place by societal belief systems,” says Woods. “The bottom line is, authentic expression heals. We are the cure we’ve been waiting for.”
"It is thrilling to see other women with disabilities embracing the beauty of our crippleness,” says Maria Palacios, polio survivor, writer and performer of The Vagina Manifesto at Sins Invalid.
If the team reaches their funding goal, shooting of the project is planned for November and December, with fine art pieces delivered to sponsors by March 2013. Themes and titles will include the following: the crucifixion and resurrection of the divine feminine, incorruptible matter (mater), immortality, ascension, the fusion of life and death, “A Dance of Veils,” “Maiden of the Apocalypse” and many more, all inspired and directed by Jocelyn’s mystic encounters.
Dodd remarks in anticipation, “Jocelyn is a very unique and compelling individual and I am excited to be working with her on this project because, like me, she seeks to unravel that exquisite combination of the erotic and the divine in her work... I believe that the images we create will be bold, erotic, challenging and above all memorable.” Mythological and religious themes abound in Dodd’s work, sometimes with a twisted tongue-in-cheek approach, and at others reverently paying homage to the Old Master traditions that influence his vision. His new Erotica series will be his most explicit yet.
“Sexuality as currently defined by humanity is but a shadow of its true magic,” muses Woods. “Suppression results in degeneration into perversion and the artificiality of pornography. When sexuality's dormant capacity is awakened, it reveals the divinity within humankind.”
About the Artists:
Jocelyn Woods, 27, is a poet, mystic, artist and model. She lives in Cambridge. Due to SMA, she is unable to stand or walk, and has been semi-bedridden for 9 years, having experienced many excruciating illnesses on the threshold where life and death kiss, only to emerge with highly refined revelations and the passion to transmit them to her global brothers and sisters. Fans can follow her work on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ResurrectionofPassion
Thomas Dodd is an Atlanta-based photographer/artist. Dodd’s digitally manipulated artwork resembles paintings and contains a cohesiveness and attention to texture not usually found in digital art. His images never look assembled or computer-generated and he shuns the “cut and paste“ clichés, preferring instead to assemble his scenery, costumes and models at the time of photography. Dodd’s primary subjects are mythology and their relations to emotions and psychological states. www.ThomasDodd.com
Oct 26 12 07:59 pm Link
Austin, Texas, US
Last image, third row, in my port is a photo of a model with cerebral palsy. She's beautiful, I've shot with her twice (and not more only because I've moved to a different city) and she proves that disability is no barrier to modeling.
Oct 27 12 12:09 pm Link
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
I was shooting an amputee once but I couldn't get shots that I really liked. I was stumped.
Oct 27 12 12:14 pm Link
Columbus, Ohio, US
Darik Datta wrote:
Rather classy of you.
Oct 27 12 12:40 pm Link
Helmond, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
Watch out Hollywood, from saturday the 8th of December 2012 untill Thursday the 13th of December Disabled Models Debbie van der Putten (Amsterdam and London) and Shaholly Ayers (Hawaii) will visit Los Angeles to promote disability in fashion and media.
Debbie (27), who lost her right arm above the elbow in a buscrash in the south of france 7 years ago is well known from the reality tv hitshow "Britain's Missing Top Model". Working as a fulltime model she travels all over the world to promote disability in fashion. She's represented by the worlds topleading "Ben Barry Agency" a modeling agency known for its use of diverse models that also represents America's (only plussize) Next Top Model Winner: "Whitney Thompson" and works as the spokesperson for a worldwide campaign called Models of Diversity www.modelsofdiversity.org
With campaigns for fashion retailers like DiDi fashion and Fudge Hair products you can say she's been pretty succesful.
After a very busy year in London with highlights such as a paralympic billboard campaign in London, Interviews for talkshow as ITV breakfast show & Channel 4 and catwalks for brands as Sonata Lingerie, Debbie decided to ask talented model Shaholly Ayers to promote disability in Los Angeles.
Shaholly Ayers was born an upper extremity amputee, missing her right arm below the elbow. She grew up in the Oregon Cascades with the dream of one day becoming a model.
Despite the negativity she received from people in her town, Shaholly set out to make her dreams come true.
She went to a modeling agency in Honolulu, Hawaii and the agent turned her away telling her, “you will never model, no photographers will ever take your picture,” because she was missing her arm. Without an agent or manager, Shaholly represented herself and went on to grace the covers of two fashion magazines in Hawaii, has been featured in countless ads in magazines, boutiques and across the web, as well as coming close to appearing on Americas Next Top Model Cycle 13 making it to the final call back.
Legendary model and actress Christie Brinkley had this to say about the fresh faced model:
…Shaholly is gorgeous! In her eyes I see her looking at a very bright and exciting future!
…Shaholly is not JUST A MODEL….but a role model as she reaches past any “limits’ and right for the stars!!!!!!!!People, like Shaholly who rise to the challenge, are the stuff dreams are made of!!!
Shaholly is not just a pretty face with magnetic personality; she is also intelligent and ambitious, receiving a Masters in Business Administration which she plans to put to good use in the near future.
Shaholly has always felt strongly in helping to spread awareness and knowledge of the people behind their disability. She is active within the community, having volunteered at Shriners Hospital for Children, a nonprofit hospital that cares for all children under the age of 18 with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, cleft lip and palate, as well as amputees. Her mission is to help spread awareness and knowledge about disability. She believes that society’s view of people with disabilities is skewed, and she would like to help them realign their views. As is her slogan, There is nothing wrong with being different – Different is beautiful!
They both believe we should see a better representation of society in fashion and have shown many times disability and fashion go together.
Allthough the success of the London 2012 Paralympics had opened the public’s eyes to the talents of disabled people, we still don’t see disability in fashion
Disabled models are discriminated against in the modelling industry, but more importantly, disabled people (approx. 15% of the population) as a whole are rarely addressed in mainstream advertising. Some retailers have improved access to their web sites, others provide easier access in stores, but rarely do they address and identify with a sector of purchasers that are largely overlooked.
Debbie and Shaholly are here to make that change, and make fashion accesible for everybody.
If you would like to recieve more info on the girls or their campaign, send in an interview request, invite the girls for an event or book a photoshoot please contact Debbie@modelsofdiversity.org
Debbie van der Putten
Nov 22 12 06:42 am Link
Highlands, New Jersey, US
New to MM, so kind of trolling right now. I have an "invisible disability" as they say, and it made me retire from my art modeling career ages ago. But with the encouragement of friends, have decided to give photography a try, despite my trepidation about how my handicap would affect my ability to work. I am thrilled to see this dialogue (and others) about diversity models (hell, I'm an EEO package all in one little body!), particularly all the open minded thinking about handicapped models. In my experience, it's rare to see this kind of positivity (other than inspiration porn) in "mainstream" life - I knew I'd been away from the art world for too long! Thanks so much, all of you, for writing. And thanks to the originator of the thread! You've given me a lot to think about and a fresh perspective on how I can approach my new modeling ventures.
Nov 22 12 06:58 am Link
Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia
I could sit tight and just shut up. but I gonna try to explain something.
I'm probably more comfortable with a writer I never saw, but who I think I know and understand at least a little better than I understand the people around me just by reading his/her books (or I just think so) without meeting him/her in person (plus, s/he could be dead like hundreds years ago).
basically, it's very difficult to me, as a matter of fact, to talk even with even the regular folks. it's just that I like photography so much that I force myself to be sometimes around the women I don't really know, just to shoot with, and I don't do this too often either.
I cannot pretend to be very comfortable around people with some issues. in addition to the very minor issues the regular folks have from time to time (and it's absolutely normal), it's dramatically more difficult task to deal with much more sensitive issues and limitations -- and all my efforts during potential photo session would be totally focused on the so called "political correctness" and be nice or something like that, no matter what. I know it's offensive. It like some white folks try too much be so over and above super good to people of color that it finally looks totally racist, like they are from another planet or any much different than yourself. they are not by any means.
the bottom line, I know I cannot come up with the more or less good results working with disabled persons. I know I would be totally paralized by overthinking the most trivial things and it could be offensive (or at least very frustrative) for a person with disabilities.
It does not mean I'm not nice (at least I hope so!), it's just like I have some kind of my own inferiority complex, even with regular folks. look at this in this way -- like I'm an invalid myself in this regards, just psychological one somewhat. for years, I worked out some approaches and solutions to look more or less "normal"
so, nope, I could not shoot with a person with disabilities. I have all my compassion for them, but I don't want to hurt anybody involuntary by not being productive or effective.
Nov 22 12 07:15 am Link
Moondancin Corky wrote:
hi i'm the originator from this post and you are welcome! :-)
Nov 23 12 11:34 am Link
Dan OMell wrote:
well, at least you're honest!
Nov 23 12 11:35 am Link
Khowmeyn, MarkazÄ«, Iran
Anna Storm wrote:
If you're so "successful," why did you rip me off on MM Market and then block me when I asked for a refund??? You owe me $20.
Nov 23 12 08:37 pm Link
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
London typically celebrated bladerunners and amputees, but other forms of disability have not really seen the light in mainstream fashion yet, however in TV disabled presenters and programmes are fairly common perhaps.
Your portfolio should be an inspiration to many people.
Nov 24 12 05:07 am Link
Rollo David Snook wrote:
Nov 27 12 01:20 am Link
New York, New York, US
Miss Marianna wrote:
The one that you have online!
Nov 27 12 05:03 am Link
oh well, thanks!
Dec 01 12 01:47 am Link
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
David Shinobi wrote:
Very PC and very unrealistic. In modelling, the look needs to be right to work for the image. In many cases, a disability is irrelevant, but if it's visible, it is a feature of a person, like their height or hair length or whatever.
Dec 02 12 03:46 pm Link
Dec 04 12 09:18 am Link
Jan 30 13 08:57 am Link
New York, New York, US
I just re-joined MM! Thank you to all the models here who serve as an inspiration for me!
Jul 13 13 08:01 am Link
Beaumont, Texas, US
I worked with a deaf model once, but I wouldn't consider that a "disability" with regard to modeling, it was just a language barrier, just like when I've worked with models who spoke no or little English.
I've never worked with anyone who was incapable or highly challenged in moving their own limbs, but I wouldn't see that as a big deal.
The only thing I'd be concerned about is if I had to pose them, in which case I'd just need them to reassure me that I'm not making them feel awkward or causing them pain. But that also applies when I'm doing work with body paint or other situations where the model has limited mobility or needs me to be working in closer quarters than usual.
Jul 14 13 12:00 am Link
London, England, United Kingdom
OP, why bump such an old thread? This thread will be 5 years old next month, why not start a new one so its not full of dead links and retired profiles.
Jul 14 13 05:15 am Link
New York, New York, US
I'm looking to shoot a couple of shoot with a disable person
Jul 30 13 06:12 am Link
Boca Raton, Florida, US
I think disabled models are awesome !!! I think they should have the same opportunities as any other person... I have a disability myself... I am on crutches have the time...I have a nerve damaged disease that is non curing and progressive... I look normal !!! but I suffer with chronic Pain and mobility... I take a lot of medicine to control it...but it does interfere with my modeling !!!
Nov 09 13 03:30 pm Link
come on, people, join the discussion, you must have an opinion about this subject!!
Dec 29 13 01:37 pm Link
London, England, United Kingdom
Miss Marianna wrote:
what more needs to be said in a 5 year old thread? Rather than just re-hashing the same thread over and over again, try starting a new thread from a slightly different angle and making it easier to engage with the topic.
Dec 29 13 05:02 pm Link
BOISE, Idaho, US
The way I look at it, literally anyone in the world could model. They just have to be willing to put the work into it, have the drive and passion, and never give up!! Being "photogenic" is not something you're born with, it's a skill that anyone can learn. No matter what look you have, there's a market out there for you, you just have to find it. Marketing can also be more important than your look or talent. Also, learn to turn your flaws into assets. I've been in a wheelchair for the past 8 months, and I'd say there are pro's and con's. But, it definitely hasn't taken me down.
More thoughts on the subject from my own personal experience:
Why Anyone Can Model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AndVXqzuV8
Runway Entrances in Crutches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYDwrpQ2Qvk
Feb 10 14 11:57 am Link
Palo Alto, California, US
12 pages to say either a client/photographer will want you or they won't....?
Feb 11 14 06:07 am Link
Please like my page on Facebook:
Feb 19 14 01:08 pm Link
Statesboro, Georgia, US
Miss Marianna wrote:
Anyone can be a model. It doesn't matter" how pretty" or "how slender/large" you are. There's a photographer out there for ANY look
Feb 22 14 09:58 am Link
unfortunately most of them are on the other side of the world for me...
May 27 14 02:09 pm Link
London, England, United Kingdom
I think its very brave and inspiring! Youre beautiful
May 27 14 06:26 pm Link
Statesboro, Georgia, US
I think this totally depends on what your disability is. This will 'limit' you on what you can physically do. For example, I have snapping hip syndrome and early arthritis in my hips (oh genetics). This makes stair climbing very painful for me. I also have exotropia, which is an eye condition that basically means the muscles controlling how my eye moves, doesn't operate at their best.
May 27 14 09:27 pm Link
Atlanta, Georgia, US
Proud of all of you.
May 27 14 11:41 pm Link
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, California, US
I wouldn't necessarily compare something as minimal as height to a physical disability...
May 28 14 12:48 am Link
Powder Springs, Georgia, US
I have a visual disability and seem to have found ways around it when modeling. My right eye is fake and my left eye only has partial vision. I am considered legally blind and unable to drive. When i pose unless i am sure i can look at the camera with both eyes dead on, then i turn my head to the side. My eyes do not always line up in my photos, but if that is the only thing bad about my photos i guess i am happy with that . I try not to let my disability slow me down. On top of modeling i am also a wife and a psychology major. With my psychology degree i hope to counsel those with disabilities.
May 28 14 02:09 pm Link
Dallas, Texas, US
+1 Well put.
May 28 14 03:06 pm Link
Houston, Texas, US
Alex Yrig wrote:
What about little people?
May 28 14 05:11 pm Link
Jul 23 14 01:01 pm Link
Manchester, New Hampshire, US
There is no reason that someone with a disability, physical, cognitive or a combination of both can not model. The real problem is a misconception of people with disabilities. I have been excited recently to see models with disabilities coming into the spotlight. JC Penny has done this: http://www.today.com/health/were-all-di … 1D79928133 and then there is the amazing project: http://www.rightthisminute.com/video/de … abilities.
As a photographer, I specialize in working with families with disabilities and hold accreditation with Special Kids Photography of America. The reason I have done this is that to work with special needs kids, you need a solid understanding of how a disability affects them, how their body may move differently or how their mind may process directions differently. I approach each of my clients/models as though they were a typical person and work from there. I treat them as friends and use warmth and compassion. I hear many horror stories from parents who have tired traditional studios including a photographer at a big box store studio looking at a child with Spina Bifida and asking "why would you want a photo of that?"
Check out my portfolio here and if you are a person with a disability in my area and would like to try a session, drop me a note and we will set something up!
Aug 05 14 01:26 pm Link