There I was. A wheelchair-using woman about to enter the Kurt Geiger showroom, about to model for a new disability-inclusive brand for their first runway show called Unhidden in the centre of London. Sounds like a dream, right? Except it wasn’t. This was real life with me at the centre. I still couldn’t comprehend even as I got swept into the green room surrounded by a hair team, makeup team and nail team. Plus, the 20 – 30 other beautiful models with their own disabilities. I was a little fish in a very big pond. Thank God my sister-in-law was with me as my anxiety was through the roof, tempting me to bolt. However, within ten minutes, I was getting my hair curled and being talked to by the stylist like we were best friends. My anxiety waned. Then makeup. My anxiety waned further. And not once did I have to adapt or accommodate for my disability. They adapted around me no condescending questions asked. I was ‘normal’ for once, like everybody else.
Every model I met was open, receptive, kind and wonderful. Each person had their own disability. Their own story. Their own path to walk…Runway to walk. Anxiety dissipated until the runway rehearsal. All lined up, waiting for our minute when all eyes will be on us, the clothes and our disabilities. The energy in the hallway was electric. All banded together in the same boat, supporting and cheering one another on. Four rehearsals down, the clock was ticking down till the actual show. Everyone began buzzing around with touch-ups, clothing fittings, and final stages. Before I could even blink, we were in beautiful, adaptive, comfy clothing fitting everyone’s needs and disabilities perfectly! Victoria: the creator and designer did an amazing job!
Those few minutes felt like an eternity. But I knew in my gut I was safe here. We all were. This runway show was for us. For society to see us and accept all disabilities are normal and deserving of fashion that fits us, whilst looking stunning on. My minute on the runway went by in a blink…Rather it felt that way. Every seat was filled, and cameras flashed left, right and centre. At that moment, I was a model. I am a model! A wheelchair-using, disabled model. 10 years ago, that would’ve been unheard of. But here I am! Here we are! This show kicked the door open by showing everyone in the industry disabled people are beautiful, too and deserve to be shown.
My advice to anyone with Ataxia who is daydreaming of doing something like this but thinks it’s only a dream. Do it! It’s not a dream! It’s not impossible! Ignore that little voice inside your head that tells you, ‘You can’t’ or ‘People will judge you.’ Who cares? Don’t let a stranger’s 2-second thought become your entire reason for not living. Go for whatever you want to do! I did, and I am ecstatic I did. The career and possibilities are endless. As they will be for you if you just take that leap of faith in yourself and what you’re capable of.