“Be The Change You Want to See in This World”
On Monday 30th September, I had the amazing opportunity to walk in the Wella TrendVision 2019 Award Collaborate Hair Show celebrating diversity at the Roundhouse in Camden as their only disabled model.
I want to share my experience from rehearsals to the show day and what it was like walking in the show.
I had the absolute pleasure of working with Dom Capel who was a guest artist for Wella and their product brand Sebastian Professional. There were seven other guest artists from Wella creating looks on two models each and in their brief they were asked to be diverse and to get away from the stigma of the usual runway show.
Every modelling job I have gotten so far this year has taken me out of my comfort zone, but walking in my first ever runway show exceeded them all and I am so grateful that I was the only disabled model with a huge responsibility and opportunity to represent models with disabilities.
This time though, I took the biggest leap I have ever embarked on and decided to experience it alone, which was a huge step for me as I'm so used to my mum being there every step of the way but not having my mum with me completely took me out of my comfort zone. I stayed in a hotel by myself for two nights where I had to navigate my way around and face things I've never had to face alone.
“Be who you needed when you were younger”
When I first started using crutches I was 10 years’ old, I felt secluded from my peers and ultimately embarrassed because I was different from everyone else. There was no one to aspire and look up to, which made me hate my crutches even more because I wasn’t seeing myself being represented anywhere. This took an emotional toll on my mental health and well being and is the main reason why I started modelling – to be who I needed when I was younger!
When I realised I was the only disabled model walking in the show, I was emotional and overwhelmed, but most importantly I felt extremely proud because I knew I had so much more to prove. I was the only model walking in the show with a mobility aid, I wanted people to understand why I was used as a model and for them to be inspired by the vision Dom was trying to capture and create.
My whole experience actually started from the rehearsals which took place the day before where I was fortunate enough to work with two amazing choreographers called Andy Turner and Gaz Davis. During the rehearsals I heard the song that would be played while I walked the runway for the first time – Heroes by Peter Gabriel, this was a phenomenal and inspirational song choice made by Dom.
While I listened to the song and got to know the runway, at the same time trying to remember my counts lol I felt as though I was already making a difference.
The show day itself was an experience I’ll never forget and forever be grateful for. When I first got told by my agency that I had been booked to walk in a hair show for Wella I was excited and overjoyed. The show was a huge production that overwhelmed me to say the least considering I have only been modelling for 9 months, but I felt excited and grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of it.
Before walking the runway, I honestly thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest because I guess a part of me was worried what people would think of a model on crutches and again if I was going to remember my counts lol.
I was nervous, I was shaking and kept thinking "what have I gotten myself into", but the minute I was on the stage, I knew this was where I wanted and needed to be.
After the show, several people asked if I actually needed crutches or if they were just used for the show. A lady even said I had "pulled it off" - comments like that surprised me as I never expected people to think that a model would use a mobility aid as a ‘prop’, but others expressed that they were inspired which made me feel proud - I’m happy people asked those questions as I think it showed I provoked thought and hopefully changed people’s perspectives on more diverse models.
Compared to where I was 12 months ago this is a 360 turn around as I was studying at a Fashion College who were not supportive of my disability so knew I had to make some hard decisions about my education and future. In the end, I made the bold decision to leave a few weeks into the course with nowhere else to go.
In October 2018 I was out of education for a few months and ended up falling into depression so I bought a puppy lmao. At this point, I decided to only put energy into the things that served me. Fast forward a year later, I am doing things I could’ve only dreamed of doing! So this is a reminder to you the reader that you’re absolutely capable of anything you put your mind to, you just need to go for it and never let other people's opinions and actions stop you as hard as it may seem.
Growing up and hearing people make snide comments about my leg and crutches made me get used to pretending as if those comments never phased me, but in fact they made me feel inadequate, almost like I was nothing compared to everyone else around me.
But today, I am proud and unapologetically myself and I hope brands start seeing the importance of casting more ‘diverse’ models because people deserve to feel like they can relate and look up to someone.
"Be Unapologetically You"
It was an absolute pleasure working with Dom Capel, Chloe Williams, Lara Johnson Lifestyle and Anthony Overton who I had the pleasure of walking the runway with – I can’t thank you all enough.
“Never Forget How Wildly Capable You Are”