Particularly in the media and the fashion industry, discussions on sex equality often omit women who are physically impaired or disabled. People with disabilities make up the greatest segment of the minority population while being mostly ignored by society.
All women should finally be given the opportunity to enjoy true equality. The models of Zebedee, a modeling agency that promotes the careers of people with disabilities and other visible characteristics, gathered together for a picture shoot in honor of International Women’s Day. The shoot’s objective was to showcase many possibilities for the expression of natural, unique beauty.
Photographer: Shelley Richmond
Art Direction: Zoe Proctor
HMUA: Jen Edwards & Kelly Richardson
All models represented by Zebedee
Meet Niamh. She is 20. She has ectodermal skin dysplasia, which is a term for a set of hereditary conditions that are quite similar to one another. She has a rare genetic disorder called Hay-Wells syndrome. This illness is relatively uncommon. It leads to abnormal growth of ectodermal tissues such as the skin, hair, nails, teeth, and sweat glands. Most notably, it has resulted in total hair loss. She is an exception since most people with her disease are born bald.
She views International Women’s Day as an occasion to honor her gender and the accomplishments they have made. It’s not just about parity; it’s about taking pride in what they’ve accomplished as a group. It is about joining and taking a stance as one to express our love for our gender. It is about them doing anything they want with no judgment from each other, simply joy, respect, and love. She has a deep appreciation for International Women’s Day, Inclusion, and Diversity since she spent most of her childhood feeling alone and different. The looks and murmurs became normal for her, but it didn’t make her any more at ease with them. She wished there was someone she could look up to who would affirm her beauty and tell her that she should love herself.
Her impression is that society has matured and become much more accepting of those who identify as “different” in recent years. And while we can certainly do better, it’s important to remember that no one is above another and that everyone deserves a sense of community. Her fears are on full display for everyone to see, making this photoshoot a real test of her courage. However, it offered her a sense of independence and empowerment, unlike anything she had experienced before. Also, it helped her see herself in a new light, leading to a deeper understanding of and respect for her own unique qualities.
Renee is permanently confined to a wheelchair due to paraplegia, which also prevents her from standing or walking. She had a hard time developing a healthy sense of self-worth and perspective when she was a kid. She always felt overlooked in the fashion business and wanted to be a part of the fight to create a more inclusive environment.
This, in her view, is why celebrations of women like International Women’s Day are so significant. It shows that all women are attractive and deserving, and that each of them has flaws she struggles to accept, but that those flaws do not define her. She dreams of inspiring women all across the globe to embrace their uniqueness by participating in a groundbreaking project, like a photo shoot for International Women’s Day. She wants to encourage others to stop being so judgmental of one another and instead celebrate their unique qualities.
She is 20. It’s been over eleven years since she was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which has left her unable to work. Her life was turned upside down when she was 10 years old and she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). She needed a wheelchair because of her disability, and she received her first one when she was 12 years old. She’s had a tough time putting her life back on track, but initiatives like this one have helped a lot.
She should probably begin by saying that she is really proud of all the stunning ladies that participated in this session. Though each participant had her own motivations for participating in the shoot, they were all motivated by the hope that the experience would boost their own self-esteem and that of other women everywhere, regardless of physical or mental capacity. Her motivation for the shot was the realization that one need not conform to be accepted by society; had she known this as a child, she may not have been so harsh on herself for attempting to do so. It’s OK that we’re all unique individuals. And it’s more than just fine; it’s gorgeous. Mother Nature created us all with unique traits and characteristics. Seeing herself as she really is in the unfiltered photos affirmed her sense of self-worth. It was as if a burden had been removed from her shoulders; she experienced a sense of liberation. It’s true that she was first worried, but her worries quickly faded away. Her confidence and elegance were reinforced by the contrast of the camera and the swath of cloth draping over her. The atmosphere was just perfect. She believes that it is simple to forget and to become stuck in a rut of believing that one is worthless because of one’s appearance. In truth, though, we need to stop focusing on stigma and instead have more celebrations of our unique identities. For her part, she has never felt more at home in her own skin than she does right now—disability and all. She will not allow anybody or anything to take away the hard work she put into getting her body to this point, and if she ever doubts her beauty or sense of power, she will remember how she felt during the photo session.
She actually loved the photo and couldn’t believe it was her when she first saw herself on Shelley’s camera. She is very grateful of Shelley’s ability to translate Zoe and Laura’s lovely concepts for this session into the way she is captured in these moments. Empowerment, femininity, and gentleness were the dominant moods of the day. She got the impression that she had known these ladies, who came from all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, her whole life while she was with them. She simply felt so blessed as she glanced about as they were sitting around a wonderfully warm fire. There was just encouraging speech and female companionship; there was no embarrassment or judgment.
She feels like she has never been a part of something so beautiful as they look at the group photos. The shoot was meant to help them recognize their own personal power. Stunningly showcasing their strength and fragility reflects well on their unique identities as women. It was lovely to see them all mature and come into their own in only a single day. The memories of that day will never leave her. What remains is the mood, the images, and the memories. The power of pictures speaks volumes, which is why initiatives like #eachforequal are so significant. Why does society force people to act as though they all have the same genetic blueprint? We should celebrate our differences because they make us special. She is extremely thankful to have been a part of such a miraculous experience.
She goes by the name Monique, and she’s 33 years old. She has a disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 3, which is also called “brittle bone disease.” This means that she can easily break her bones, is always tired, has very loose limbs, is only 3’4′′ tall, and uses a wheelchair full-time. She puts a high value on celebrating International Women’s Day. For her, this wonderful day to honor women of all ages, backgrounds, and talents has just been brought to her attention in the last few years. When others look at her, she is often identified as a lady last, after her disability and race. This is the case even among individuals who do not mistake her for a kid. After enjoying this day last year and discovering that she and many others had a fantastic day simply celebrating being women, she wanted to highlight that all women, no matter how different, should be honored, acknowledged, and regarded as beautiful. If this campaign inspires even one woman to feel confident in her own skin, then it will have been well worth it for women everywhere to parade about in their birthday suits.
Her name is Cara. She’s 21. She uses a wheelchair often because she suffers from a functional neurological disease that prevents her body from functioning normally. She had been so disappointed in and frustrated by her own physical self ever since she became ill. Being part of this session with the other stunning Zebedee women helped her realize that she is attractive not despite but because of her impairment. She is pleased with how the shoot’s participants used International Women’s Day to highlight the contributions of women who are too often overlooked, as well as to demonstrate that all people deserve to be accepted without judgment and to experience the positive emotions associated with body positivity.
Maya is a 19-year-old woman. She was born with scoliosis and a hereditary neurological disorder. Similarly, she uses a manual wheelchair. She thinks it’s crucial that we set aside one day each year to honor the many forms of female success throughout the globe. However, International Women’s Day is a significant step towards women’s equality and the steady elimination of prejudice against women in a society where discrimination against women is still all too common. The importance of diversity and inclusion in the media cannot be overstated in today’s culture. The media not only serves as a mirror to our culture but also as a powerful tool for public outreach and instruction. Some marginalized groups may get the impression that they don’t belong if there isn’t enough of an effort to include and diversify the population. Having relatable role models and performers is very important in the media. From personal experience, she knows that seeing a disabled character on television or a model with a handicap or difference on the front of a magazine makes her feel strong and confident. In addition, if these minorities are obtaining media attention/representation, it may lead to the rest of society being more tolerant, compassionate, and inclusive towards these groups of individuals. She said she wanted to be a part of the photo so she could “put herself out there,” join in celebrating the beautiful women in our culture, and highlight the inherent attractiveness of all shapes and sizes. Further, she hoped her advice would be of use to others who, like her, suffer from low self-esteem due to their appearance. Though it was also one of the liberating things she’s ever done, she admits that doing it was one of the scariest things she’s ever done. Over the course of five years, she struggled with body dissatisfaction since she knew her form was unlike that of her peers and relatives. A hump on her back from previous operations and deformities in her feet made her very self-conscious. Having worked with Zebedee Management on a number of shoots like this one, she has now learned to love and embrace her body as it is. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that she would be able to achieve this, and now she hopes that her example would encourage others to embrace who they are. Anyone having trouble with issues of gender bias, self-acceptance, or body confidence, she says, should attempt to embrace their uniqueness and take risks. Perhaps you could share a snapshot of yourself that focuses on the area where you feel the most insecure. Make an effort to put yourself in situations where you can interact with people that love and accept you for who you are. Additionally, keep in mind that there are a great number of individuals you may connect with who are going through the same thing. Keep in mind that you are really attractive and have a huge impact on the world.
The 65-year-old Lindy has a hearing impairment. Difficulties might arise while trying to hide a disability, such as during travel or social events. She has accepted her need for hearing aids as part of her identity and is no longer ashamed of them. She thinks we should focus on the individual before any other considerations, such as their age, size, talent, race, or background. One thing that unites us all is our individuality. She was thrilled to work with Zebedee Management on their IWD picture session. She appreciated the confidence and strength she gained from just being herself and covering herself with fabric. She met several wonderful folks and had a great time. Attempting something new at any age is always a good idea. She wants to honor all women, not just the Zebedee models, who are powerful and attractive in their own right.
Her name is Clara, and she’s 39 years old. She is wheelchair-bound due to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a hereditary connective tissue illness. Though her participation in this campaign was motivated in part by her illness, she is more than her diagnosis. She thinks there is a lack of representation in today’s culture and is an outspoken supporter of more openness and diversity in public spaces. She strongly believes in the importance of loving oneself, fostering one’s own freedom, and encouraging people to pursue their passions despite whatever limitations they may have. These “buzz phrases” aren’t exclusive to women of a specific size or “able body type,” but rather they apply to women of all shapes and sizes throughout the world.
International Women’s Day. When someone has a handicap, how much do you tend to overlook the fact that they are a woman? Do you intend to say that Kathleen has Down syndrome or that she is a lady who also happens to have Down syndrome? The solution is more complicated than you would at first imagine. IWD in particular. She is former on the vast majority of days, including the day of the shoot in question. It’s clear that she’s the latter when it comes to speaking up for herself, advocating for herself, and understanding why and how she could be treated differently because of her health and gender.
We all understand that normalization occurs as a result of representation, which results from diversity, which results from inclusion, which results from awareness. It’s a never-ending cycle. Generally speaking, I believe that women have shown their worth throughout this whole procedure. However, they should not let their guard down and should maintain in touch. We used to make snap judgments about people based on their gender before we knew anything about their skills. The younger generation cares less about one’s gender and more about the individual and their skills. It’s already a sensitive situation without adding a handicap, ailment, or difference, apparent or not, to the mix. Just as gender concealed a person’s skills and confined them to a rule of behavior, disability appears to deprive them of their femininity. That’s why it’s crucial to have strong role models like Kathleen and the other models included in advertisements like this. So that women may show others that despite their illness or handicap, they still have all the same pleasures and pains, hopes and disappointments, and desires for validation and satisfaction as any other mainstream woman. For many years, International Women’s Day has served as a terrific opportunity to bring attention to some very large problems. In that case, this would be considered one of them.
She goes by the name Gemma and is 25 years old. She has hundreds of birthmarks of varying sizes, caused by congenital melanocytic naevus (CMN). As a result of these and other medical issues, she has had over 20 plastic operations, several of which were performed on her when she was still a baby. She, like many teenage females, had self-consciousness about her looks and tended to avoid social situations where her naked body would be on display, such as outings to the beach or swimming pool. Slowly but surely, she began to accept her uniqueness; she still has a ways to go, but she has gone very far. All of these women may join together to honor the unique histories, perspectives, and accomplishments of women everywhere in the globe on International Women’s Day (IWD). She values the idea of sisterhood and knows she is blessed to have such wonderful pals who would fight to the death to defend her if she ever has to endure discrimination or prejudice because of her appearance. They support one another through good times and bad, sharing experiences and helping one another grow. In her line of employment, where sexism is still widespread, she faces discrimination on a daily basis. The majority of healthcare workers throughout the world are women, however, they only make up 25% of top healthcare jobs worldwide. Celebrated occasions such as International Women’s Day provide a forum for bringing attention to these problems and paving the way for positive change. She’s taking part in the movement to acknowledge and honor all the amazing women around the globe by way of Zebedee’s efforts to spread messages of acceptance and diversity.