Disabled models: progess or a publicity stunt?

21 October 2010

At first glance this poster looks like the latest instalment from Wonderbra. Until you look closer… And realise the lingerie clad model is missing her left hand.

In fact this headline grabbing advertising campaign was commissioned by disability group CAP48… and has made the model, Tanya Kieitz an overnight star.

‘I’ve been besieged on Facebook,’ said the 35 year old graphic designer, ‘And the reaction has been mainly positive. People often think that handicapped people don't have a personality, that they are strange people. They have to see that I'm a woman above all and that I can be beautiful and sexy, and the handicap is secondary.’

We applaud CAP48 for their taboo-breaking campaign… Mainly because – despite first impressions – they’re not trying to sell us anything. This differs from Debenhams' use of disabled models. When the high street store cast Shannon Murray, a model in a wheelchair to front their new ad campaign, we weren’t the only ones to question whether it was progress or a publicity stunt.

Similarly, London will host two ‘disabled fashion shows’ this month. ‘Fashion With Passion’ on October 22nd will feature disabled and able-bodied models wearing clothes from ASOS, Laura Fox and Full Circle, to name a few. Meanwhile ‘Disabled and Sexy’ on October 25th will feature Sophie Morgan, one of the contestants on ‘Britain’s Missing Top Model’.
 
At least CAP48’s bra ‘ad’ has a more honest aim – it’s supporting a charity not selling clothing. However the point of a fashion show is to sell clothing. If so will these models encourage us to buy products? Or is it just one big publicity stunt?
 
We want to hear your views…
 
- Amy Molloy


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