2017 was the year that brands and companies finally made a start on improving diversity in their campaigns and representing minorities but, as I’ve talked about on my own blog before, there is more often than not one minority that gets left out of the conversation. We were missed out of The Oscars diversity conversations, forgotten about in supposedly diverse fashion campaigns and generally missed off the diversity list time and time again. Disabled people are forgotten about all too often and this is especially true when it comes to the fashion and beauty industry.
Whilst things are slowly getting better we definitely aren’t heading in the right direction as quickly as we should be, so modelling agency Zebedee Management decided to take things into their own hands and shoot a swimwear campaign named Everybody Beautiful and the best thing? All the models are disabled. And it isn’t just made up of wheelchair users and visibly disabled people, they’ve covered a wide range of disabilities including invisible ones and learning disabilities.
This isn’t a one off box ticking exercise either, as Zebedee are an agency dedicated to representing disabled people. They have led their disabled models to work on huge campaigns with brands like River Island and others have walked at London Fashion Week; they are the diversity boost this industry desperately needs. The agency was founded by Laura Johnson and Zoe Proctor after they noticed that disabled people were not being fairly represented in the media, and they are ideal for the job with both having experience in the modelling industry, as well as Laura being a social worker and Zoe being a performing arts teacher for people with learning disabilities. They are dedicated to being diverse in all areas too with their models ranging in age, size and ethnicity.
We still have a long way to go but campaign’s like this from Zebedee are starting conversations, breaking down myths and taboos and opening doors for disabled models. I’ve never been too confident in front of a camera but seeing the images from Everybody Beautiful ignited something within me and suddenly I wanted to be there, taking part. That’s what representation does, it creates opportunities and shows people their potential. Hopefully the success of their models will encourage other agencies to take on disabled models in the future because everyone benefits when people are better represented.