The mission of Zebedee, a modeling and talent agency that represents persons with disabilities and visible differences, is to promote equitable media and fashion representation in order to alter negative stereotypes and biases.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, a group of Zebedee’s most beautiful models got together for a photo session. The photo session is an attempt to celebrate genuine and diverse forms of beauty and to foster genuine acceptance.
Women with impairments and obvious differences are routinely written out of the narrative when it comes to gender equality, notably in the media and the fashion industry. Eight out of ten persons who experience a disability agree that their community does not do enough to include them, and statistics show that disabled people are the most underrepresented minority in the media.
All women deserve to have an equal voice in politics, and the time has come to make that happen. Zebedee and the other stunning models in this shoot aim to provide the role models these ladies need to feel strong and confident in themselves.
- Photographer: Shelley Richmond
- Art Direction: Zoe Proctor
- HMUA: Jen Edwards & Kelly Richardson
- All models represented by Zebedee
- More info: zebedeemanagement.co.uk | Instagram | Facebook | twitter.com
#1. Gemma, 25
My name is Gemma and I’m 25 years old. I have hundreds of birthmarks of varying sizes because I was born with a condition called congenital melanocytic naevus (CMN). Some of these conditions I had as a newborn, and as a result, I had about 20 reconstructive surgery that left me scarred and disfigured. I had a hard time with my appearance in high school, just like a lot of other females my age, and I would often avoid activities like going to the pool or the beach because of it. Slowly but surely, I learned to celebrate my uniqueness.
I still have a ways to go, but I’ve gone a long way! The celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) is a wonderful chance for people all across the world to honor the unique histories, perspectives, and contributions of women. Sisterhood is a vital idea in my life, and I know that I am fortunate to have wonderful pals who will fight to the death to defend me if I am ever the target of prejudice or discrimination due to my appearance.
We support one another during the good times and the bad, and we are always there to help each other out. There are still major issues with gender disparity in the field that I work in. Seventy percent of the health care workforce is female, while just 25 percent of the world’s top health officials are female. Festivals like IWD provide a spotlight for these challenges and help move society forward by raising awareness. I’m happy to be a part of Zebedee’s campaign to encourage tolerance and acceptance, honor natural beauty, and give thanks to all the amazing women in the world.
#2. Kathleen, 20
When they have a disability, how much do you forget that they are a woman? Does it make more sense to say that Kathleen has Down syndrome and is a woman, or that she is a woman who has Down syndrome? There is no simple solution to this problem. IWD in particular. Most days, including the day of the shoot, she is the former. But when it comes to speaking up for herself, advocating for herself, and understanding why and how she can be treated differently because of her disability and/or gender, she is very certainly the latter, and that’s when I step in.
We all know that the path to normality runs through representation, which in turn requires diversity, inclusion, and awareness. It’s a continuous cycle. I believe women have demonstrated their worth throughout this procedure. Nevertheless, they have to be on the lookout and in touch with the loop at all times. At first, we judged people based on their gender and then, later, on their ability. Generation Z doesn’t care about gender; they care about the individual and their potential. A disability, ailment, or difference, whether obvious or not, can completely change the dynamic of a relationship.
The sheer cloak of handicap seems to strip people of their womanhood in much the same way that the sheer cloak of womanhood used to hide away a person’s strengths and constrain them to a well-defined code of behavior. That’s why it’s crucial for people to see women like Kathleen and the other models featured in these campaigns; they’ll be reminded or revealed to the full range of feelings, emotions, and urges of any other mainstream woman, including the joys and sorrows, the longings and disappointments, the need for validation and fulfillment. IWD has traditionally been a fantastic venue for calling attention to some very large elephants in the room. One of them is this. In that case, let’s have a conversation about it.
#3. Clara, 39
It’s my pleasure to introduce myself; my name is Clara, and I’m 39 years old. I use a wheelchair on a daily basis due to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue illness I acquired from my mother. But I am more than just my illness, and that’s why I joined this movement. In my opinion, there is a current deficiency in societal representation, which is why I feel strongly that inclusion and diversity are crucial.
I strongly believe in fostering an environment where people are accepted for who they are, where they can learn to love and respect themselves, and where they are inspired to follow their dreams despite whatever obstacles they may face. It’s important to note that these “buzz words” aren’t limited to “able-bodied” women of a specific size; rather, they apply to women of all shapes and sizes around the world.