Four disabled models will be taking to the catwalk this week in a bid to persuade some of the country’s top women’s magazines that they should be featuring on their front covers.
The four women will be part of a 20-strong line-up put together by the campaigning organisation Models of Diversity (MOD), which wants to see more diversity in the modelling world.
They will be appearing in three catwalk shows at the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, at London’s Earls Court.
Faye Povey, one of the four models, said she believed high street brands and mainstream modelling agencies were “still very reluctant to have disabled models modelling for them”, and only used them as “shock tactics”.
But she said she was “optimistic” that the campaign could work, having seen people’s reactions to her own photographs.
She pointed to how few disabled models had been used in mainstream fashion campaigns, and added: “15 per cent of the consumer market are disabled. You would think the fashion industry would want to use that 15 per cent of their market in their campaigns.”
Although she said she believed the success of the London 2012 Paralympics had opened the public’s eyes to the talents of disabled people, she added: “I just hope people do not start forgetting about the Paralympics.
“Unless we take advantage of it now, by next year people will have forgotten all about it.”
She is convinced the Earls Court shows will be a success, and added: “People will be refreshed not to see the boring, size-zero, stereotypical models that the majority of people are never going to be like anyway.”
Faye Povey will be appearing alongside fellow disabled models Sarah McCann, Kelly Knox – the winner of BBC’s Britain’s Missing Top Model – and Debbie van der Putten, who also competed in the show.
Angel Sinclair, MOD’s founder, said she was “shocked and disappointed” that the fashion industry had failed to use a single disabled model during this year’s London Fashion Week, although Faye Povey did appear on the catwalk during Liverpool Fashion Week.
She has invited Cosmopolitan, Grazia, MORE and Prima magazines to watch this week’s Earls Court catwalk shows.
She said: “They need to see these girls in action. I am not going to stop until these girls get signed by a UK agency and they start to get work.”
But she warned that model agencies and fashion retailers were “really frightened to step out of the box and take a risk”.
Although Debenhams featured the disabled model Shannon Murray in a campaign two years ago, no other retailer has followed its lead.
There will be two MOD catwalk shows on Thursday 15 November, and a third one on Sunday 18 November.