Fashion + Disability

Instagram and Inclusivity

The discussion of inclusivity in fashion is a topic we all should be aware of. Everyone has a connection to fashion just by wearing clothes. Regardless of whether style is at the forefront of the decisions made when getting dressed. With that being said, the topic of fashion and disability is an excellent campaign that highlights issues people with disabilities face. Perhaps when shopping or scrolling down Instagram. Social media has the power to be inclusive. This can create change in the fashion industry by highlighting the effects on body image.

I think many of us can agree that the topic of body image has affected our outlook when it comes to shopping for a new outfit. Predominantly, we see an abundance of slim and tall models in magazines, websites and campaigns.

It is easy to feel disheartened when it comes to looking online at your favourite clothing store and seeing clothes on supermodel bodies. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for those who suffer with a disability. Those who want to shop and enjoy clothes but they see them on unrealistic supermodel body types. It’s extremely important to mention the upcoming disabled models and influencers we are now seeing in 2020.

The impact of social media

Like many of us, we scroll down Instagram looking at the many fashion influencers to gain inspiration for outfit ideas. Similarly, to fashion magazines and campaigns, social media plays the huge role in advertising a brands latest clothing collection.

Social media is a platform that can both inform and inspire. You can relate to someone with the same body type, style, and personality as yourself. Instagram shouldn’t demonstrate the ideal body type; it should highlight us as a whole as that is what real life is like.

We are made to believe that we need to look like certain models like Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss in order to look a certain way. Instagram should be a reflection of what we see every day; a mixture of bodies all shapes and sizes, all of which are normal.

Instagram has the ability to allow anyone with the accessibility to a smart phone to create a fashion page and influence their followers by showing daily outfits. Following an influencer who has a similar style to yourself in order to shop the clothes they are advertising is key. After some research, it is clear that there are many disabled influencers and models on Instagram.

Models you need to follow to both aspire to and get the best fashion inspo

  1. Jillian Mercado

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 13, Jillian loved fashion and admired models such as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. However, understandably she couldn’t find any models she could truly relate to. She decided to become an ‘activist and trendsetter’, much like the influencers you see on your news feed. Jillian has worked with brands such as Diesel and Ivy Park.

2. Chelsea Werner

Following a diagnosis of Down syndrome at age 13, Chelsea defied all odds becoming a world champion gymnast. Following her time as an athlete, she set her sights for the modelling industry. She has made a huge name for herself as she has featured in many campaigns, walked in New York Fashion Week and was a Teen Vogue cover girl.

3. Rafi Solaiman

At the age of 12, Rafi’s life took a turn for the worst when he experienced a severe brain haemorrhage. This meant Rafi had to begin to learn the baby steps of life again such as walking and talking. Adjusting to his new way of living facing physical complications.

In an interview, Rafi explained that modelling has since helped his confidence. He demonstrates his style and fashion on his Instagram page using a walking frame, but he said he has never been more successful or felt more confident.

These are just 3 out of the many models, influencers we all should be following and aspiring towards. The idea of a perfect body image is not realistic. Admiring the many influencers, models and advocates that are present online can create a positive impact on the fashion industry.

It’s important to celebrate that we are a world full of people, each of us unique and of different shapes and sizes.

How boring would it be if we all looked the same.

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