Written By: Sam Balls 19/9/15
A DISABLED model forced to abandon her fledgling nursing career after developing a rare condition is challenging the fashion industry to become more inclusive.
Chelsey Jay, 24, of Magnolia Close, Witham, is spearheading a nationwide campaign by modelling agency Models of Diversity, which aims to raise awareness about the lack of disabled models in high-profile positions.
The agency will launch its Disability Fight 4 Fashion Right petition tomorrow, timed to coincide with the start of London Fashion Week, and aims to capture 100,000 signatures to force a debate about disablism in the House of Commons.
Wheelchair user Chelsey was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome in October 2012 after she passed out while training at Broomfield Hospital almost a year earlier.
Chelsey, who is director of disability at the agency, said: “Disability in fashion is very topical at this time of year. With all the biggest designers and models taking part in shows around the world, we all are asking ourselves, where does disability get fairly represented?
“Nowhere, is the answer.
“What we’re asking for isn’t a big ask. What we want is for the industry as a whole, including agencies, global brands and advertising campaigns, to employee one disabled model for every three able-bodied models they have on their books.
“That’s the aim, because the ratio of disabled people to abled-bodied people in society is one to four. We’re making this a government petition, so that there will be ramifications if agencies don’t follow our proposals.”
Models of Diversity, which also campaigns for global brands to employ more models from ethnic minorities, makes its voice heard at fashion events, offers workshops and vigorously promotes a more diverse range of models in the media and social networking.
Chelsey added: “Our goal isn’t going to happen overnight, we’re just concentrating on taking baby steps at the moment. Having the condition I’ve got makes me feel so alienated.
“I’ve lived both lives, I’ve been able-bodied and now I’m disabled, and sometimes I feel invisible. How am I supposed to look?
“Fashion is such an important part of our society and our culture – it needs to represent everyone.”
Sign the petition at www. petition.parliament.uk and for more information about the agency Chelsey volunteers for, go to www.modelsof diversity.org
Source: Essex Chronicle