As you can see, the modelling industry is becoming more diverse. The number of disabled models is increasing. They do not let the disability stop them from becoming successful in life. Instead, they’re making history and breaking down barriers. You can even see models with down syndrome who are making a name for themselves with their difference, Chelsea Warner, for example. Here is a list of 20 disabled models who are taking the modelling industry by storm and how they got their starts.
20. Jillian Mercado
Agency: IMG Models
Jillian Mercado is a wheelchair user due to muscular dystrophy and is breaking down barriers in the modeling industry. In 2014, Jillian was picked for an ad for Diesel Jeans by the artistic director of Diesel, Nicola Formichetti, she has not looked back since. The young woman has been also featured in campaigns for Target and merchandise ads for Beyoncé’s Formation tour.
19. Debbie van der Putten
Agency: Ben Barry, Models of Diversity
In 2005, Debbie van der Putten was involved in a bus crash and this made her lose her right arm. Three years later in 2008, Debbie competed on Britain’s Missing Top Model, a reality TV show following disabled models as they compete for a photoshoot with John Rankin Waddell and a cover in Marie Claire.
18. Sophie Morgan
A car crash in 2003 caused Sophie Morgan being paralysed from the chest down. She competed on Britain’s Missing Top Model in 2008 and although she didn’t win the competition, she was quickly picked up by Stella McCartney. Sophie went on to model for the adidas by Stella McCartney Olympic campaign in 2012 and was featured on a giant billboard on Oxford Street in London.
17. Aimee Mullins
Fibular hemimelia caused Aimee Mullins’s both her legs amputated below the knee. She shot to stardom when she became one of the world’s first disabled models, opening for Alexander McQueen’s runway show in London in 1999; she remained one of McQueen’s muses until he passed away in 2010. Aimee has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, i-D, Another, Numero, Garage Magazine, and Vogue, as well as gracing the cover of Dazed & Confused and appearing as the face of L’Oréal Paris.
16. Alexandra Kutas
Hailing from Ukraine, Alexandra Kutas claimed the title of the world’s first runway model in a wheelchair as well as Ukraine’s first fashion model with a disability. Alexandra modelled on the runway during Ukraine Fashion Week in 2015 and a couple of months later unveiled a photography exhibition called “Break Your Chains” alongside photographer Andrei Sarymsakov.
15. Viktoria Modesta
Viktoria Modesta has been modelling since she was 15 years old. However, she felt held back by a birth defect in her left leg, so she made the decision to have the leg amputated. Viktoria has appeared in i-D, The Times, PRS Magazine, Notion, LOOK, Wonderland, and Grazia UK and Italia.
14. Jack Eyers
Agency: Models of Diversity
British Jack Eyers is a male disabled model and personal trainer who wears a prosthetic leg after having his leg amputated at 16 years old due to a medical condition. In 2015, he became the first male disabled model to walk in New York Fashion Week. He has also walked in London Fashion Week in the Teatum Jones A/W 17 show and was crowned Mr. England 2017, making him the first amputee to earn that title.
13. Kelly Knox
Agency: MiLK Management
34-year-old Kelly Knox competed alongside Debbie van der Putten in Britain’s Missing Top Model and ended up winning the competition. She has walked in Pakistani Fashion Week, Teatum Jones’ A/W 17 show at London Fashion Week, and has appeared in Marie Claire UK, Marie Claire China, and Glamour, and has modelled for SLiNK. She is also a mother and a regular blogger for Huffington Post UK.
12. Melissa Koole
Agency: MiLK Management London, Muse New York
Melissa Koole is an accomplished plus-size model. She has modelled for Coach, Eloquii, and Vera Wang, has walked the runway for Addition Elle, and appeared in Indie Magazine.
11. Lauren Wasser
Agency: Vision Models LA, LA Models
Born and raised in California, Lauren Wasser has been modelling since she was a teen. She has been featured in Time Magazine and People Magazine and has walked in countless runway shows, including the Kenneth Cole F/W 16 show, the Chromat F/W 16 show, and the Chromat S/S 17 show in New York Fashion Week.