Stylist Stephanie Thomas dresses people with disabilities in Hollywood. This year in March, she decided to commemorate Women’s History Month with a photoshoot replacing iconic women of colour on magazine covers with women with disabilities.
Debunking stereotypes, these photos do not show the women in a wheelchair or with assisted devices.
The photoshoot, Thomas writes on her Instagram, is aimed at “eradicating negative perceptions of people with disabilities by challenging antiquated ableist constructs of the ‘ideal fashion customer’”.
“See us, look in our eyes, and see what we have in common as opposed to treating us as second class citizens who need to be fixed,” she further wrote.
Thomas, a congenital amputee missing digits on her right hand and feet, has been following fashion trends for people with disabilities for years. It was in 1993 — when she was competing for Miss Kentucky as a college student — that her life took a turn, thanks to her pageant coach.
“I never buttoned my left cuff on my shirts. My coach would say, ‘Why don’t you ever tuck in your shirt? Why don’t you ever button this? And I would look at my hand and say, ‘I don’t button my shirt because I don’t have a right thumb’,” Thomas told Forbes in an interview.
Soon, the stylist set out to research clothing trends for people with disabilities. She went on to launch her first website in 2010 where she posted styling tips. It was in 2015 that the website came to be known as Cur8able, through which she recently conducted the photoshoot.
“They (fashion industry) need to see people with disabilities as fashion customers…it’s attitudinal. Stop looking at us as if you’re doing us a fr**king favour. To design with disability in mind creates innovation that goes beyond even what I could think of,” she further said in the interview.