What makes a model? Is it tall legs and a skinny frame as the fashion industry has skewed us into thinking? Or is it a love for fashion regardless of shape, size, or whether a person happens to be able-bodied? Occurring during the midst of the 2018 Melbourne Fashion Week, Access to Fashion is a runway show ready to prove that the disabled community are just as worthy of being viewed as beautiful as anyone currently on a catwalk.
Despite making up around 20 percent of the Australian population, the representation of disabled bodies in the realms of fashion and beauty are slim to none. As activist and organiser of Access to Fashion Carly Findlay Morrow states on the event’s GoFundMe page:
“If you bought a magazine, consumed any media or went retail shopping, you would think that the disabled population was almost non-existent, or only existed in a medical setting.”
It’s a valid concern, not just in terms of making workplaces and the media more inclusive, but also in showcasing the practical needs of disabled people when it comes to clothing. So often, aesthetics are ignored in clothing made for the purpose of meeting mobility needs thus removing a disabled person’s ability to be ‘fashionable’.
“I don’t want to show that disability looks a certain way,” Findlay says, ”When we show representation, we show the world and each other. As much as it’s outward facing, this is for us.”
The normative depictions of what and who belongs in the world of fashion need to change, and whilst singular events — such as Access to Fashion — rather than industry wide change are only small steps in the grand scheme of things, they are still much needed moves towards progression.