Break out the champagne and caviar, folks, a miracle has occurred — a wheelchair user model has graced the runway during New York Fashion Week.
The model we have to thank is Ms. Wheelchair New York 2012 Danielle Sheypuk, a clinical psychologist specializing in the dating and sexuality of people with disabilities. She’s been using a wheelchair since the age of 2 after she was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, and has always been interested in designer clothing. With her blonde hair, feminine style and love of high heels, it definitely shows.
She has awesome credentials, not to mention she’s a stunner, so it’s no wonder designer Carrie Hammer, a former ad exec turned designer, chose Danielle to be one of her models. But it definitely takes a special designer to have the vision necessary to feature on a model who uses a wheelchair. Selling dresses that fit the everyday woman, Hammer wanted to feature “role models,” not traditional fashion models, to try to foster a positive body image among women watching her runway show.
What I love most about Danielle’s appearance at New York Fashion Week is that she was included at one of the most image-conscious events on the planet. You can bet her appearance made some of the people there feel uncomfortable despite the designer’s open-mindedness, and I’m glad for it. People’s boundaries need to be pushed.
The world is changing more than ever these days. I really hope our inclusion in the fashion world keeps on occurring; it’s necessary for our society to grow in a positive way. People have been asking to see “real beauty” in the media for a long time, and models with disabilities are perfect for this kind of thing. Our inclusion in the world of fashion may be an uncomfortable subject for many stalwart members of the fashion community, but it needs to happen.
Hopefully, with Danielle’s appearance at New York Fashion Week, not to mention Jillian Mercado’s appearance in the recent Diesel in-store ad campaign (Mercado is a fashion blogger who has muscular dystrophy), the fashion world is finally brave enough to seriously include us a regular basis.
One can hope. Perhaps a new day in the fashion world has finally dawned