While the clothing at New York Fashion Week has always pushed boundaries, the industry's view of what constitutes beauty has long needed an upgrade. This year, in the midst of many changes, one model made waves in the best way possible. Dr. Danielle Sheypuk became the first model to go down the runway in a wheelchair.
Sheypuk, who was also named Ms. Wheelchair New York in 2012, was featured in the Fall 2014 runway presentation for designer Carrie Hammer. Of the decision, Hammer cast "role models not runway models." She succeeded with the choice to use Shreypuk, a clinical psychologist who specializes in dating and sexuality among the disabled.
Of her clothing, Hammer "makes dresses to fit women. We don't make dresses that women need to fit into." Shreypuk, who wore a black blouse and trendy newspaper print skirt for her runway debut, is the physical embodiment of this idea. In a wheelchair since age two, she has fully embraced her own identity, but knows that we have a long way to go before those who are disabled feel recognized by society. She told Women's eNews:
People with disabilities are an untapped consumer market in terms of fashion [...] We read the magazines, shop in stores, but nothing is ever pitched to us.
Sheypuk dispelled the notion that a disability limits an individual's capacity to follow whatever path she desires. She nails the role model label head on.
And for the fashion world at large, this could be great news; it indicates that the fashion world is using its powers for good. Fashion has so much influence because it transcends circles — it is art, consumerism, design, labor, personal taste, history. The possibilities for positive and negative messages to seep through are endless. Seeing the community embrace Sheypuk this way is heartening. Just maybe we are finally moving in the right direction.
Images: Getty Images; daniellesheypuk/Instagram