I am like most Liverpool lovelies, I love fashion and feeling glamorous is not just a description, it is a way of life. Things changed a bit for me in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome (GBS), which left me in hospital for the best part of a year fighting against it and then in intensive rehabilitation. As a result of my illness I can no longer walk or stand unaided & rely mainly on a wheelchair. Throughout my life, fashion has always been a massive part of who I am and something I enjoy spending time on, so why should it not still be now. Like millions of others living with disabilities, I buy the magazines, brands and products but we are in no way represented by them…why not?!? In this day and age it is crazy that we are still discriminated against in this way.
It is so hard to believe that in 2015, we are still having to fight against discrimination and inequality. But this is exactly what we at Models of Diversity (http://www.modelsofdiversity.org) are doing. The amazing Angel Sinclair (CEO of Models of Diversity), started up MOD in 2008, and since has been tirelessly campaigning for more diversity within fashion. I discovered this not for profit organisation a few years ago, and it has really been a saviour to me. Meeting Angel and all the team, I discovered that despite my outward appearance and abilities changing, I was still me and was able to pursue modelling now as a model with disabilities.
Chelsey Jay, from Essex, the Director for disabled models has used a wheelchair for a number of years as a result of a condition she developed called POTS (Postural Tachycardia syndrome), through which she faints if she attempts to stand up. Chelsey has worked so hard in trying to bring about change for the better, through pushing boundaries with brands and labels, arranging meetings with head offices and getting our name out there through media. Despite her determination unfortunately we are still battling.
Gemma and Chelsea Jay
To try and stop the inequality for good, Chelsey and Angel came up with the idea for a campaign which will hopefully change the inequality in fashion for good. The campaign will involve us touring around the UK to major cities, gaining the support of the public. Chelsey has got the backing of Kate Green MP who has helped put together a petition, meaning once we obtain enough signatures and present it to parliament, attention will have to be given to this matter. This would mean that disabled models would be used as regularly as any other model. Once we have the signatures required we can present it to parliament showing we have the support of the public and we would then need to be listened to seriously.
Together with Chelsey and myself, our #disabilityfight4fashionright tour is made up of two other gorgeous models. Elesha Turner, from Hastings who relies on a crutch after having major surgery to battle cancer in her thigh bone has had a major successes worldwide since becoming a model with disabilities. And also Katie Knowles, from Newcastle who uses a crutch after spinal surgery a number of years ago for treatment of disc degenerative disease and spinal stenosis, who is passionate about being a part of this change and making people take notice of us as models with disabilities.
As we are a not for profit organisation, nothing that any of our team do is funded in any way, so in order for this tour and campaign to go ahead we are in need of support. As we all live in different parts of the UK, there will be substantial travel that needs to be funded so we can get this tour up and running. We are looking for organisations, businesses or individuals who can provide financial support to the tour to simply fund travel costs or indeed help us with travel in any way. We will have both local and national press coverage in each location which will be amazing publicity for any company wanting to help us. We will ensure your organisation/business receives credit in any press that we do, and can discuss brand promotion etc too if applicable. The cities we will be touring are; Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Essex, Birmingham and Brighton (though we would love to add more cities depending on funding). In return for any support, we would also (where appropriate) provide ourselves as models for photo-shoot to promote your organisation, brand or products completely fee free.
We have set up a ‘go fund me’ page (http://www.gofundme.com/vrusu7q), which any kind hearted individuals can make donations to. Literally we are truly grateful of any donation no matter how small or large. Please feel free to get in touch if you can help and please share to others, who you think may be interested in helping in any way:
Social media handles:
Twitter – @modsofdiversity
Instagram – @modelsofdiversity