Is having a disabled model a good thing or bad?
Good, more power to them
59.1% (26)
59.1% (26)
Bad, it's exploiting them
2.3% (1)
2.3% (1)
Good, why aren't there more?
11.4% (5)
11.4% (5)
Bad, it's just exaggerating the differences
18.2% (8)
18.2% (8)
Other (please state)
2.3% (1)
2.3% (1)
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Poll: Debenhams employs disabled model
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Debenhams employs disabled model

The UK high street has a new model, and she's brought her wheelchair. Shannon Murray, who has been in a wheelchair for 18 years after she broke her neck, is starring in the new adverts for Principles clothes.

Debenham's last big campaign was to show off size 16 mannequins as an attempt to break the stranglehold of the stick thin models, and the latest show is part of the How to Look Good Naked series.

For the Americans, size 16 UK is 14 US (large/x-large).

Part of my original intro was "she's got legs...", but that could be seen as a little OTT.

But is this finally an acceptance of disabled people? Or another kick in the teeth?

Well, it shows more acceptance when they get jobs previously beyond their reach.
Thankfully, the world is, for the most part, becoming a more accepting place.
Not just for disabled people, as shown by this, but others who may have previously been outcasts.
I don't think it is a kick in the teeth.
I think it is progress.

I think it's good that companies like Debenhams aren't discriminating against disabled people. Shows that the world isn't all size 0 sticks on catwalks and that real people exist!

If I didn't know she was disabled I would think this picture was having a model shamelessly act disabled in this one photograph.

Which probably means that because I thought it more unlikely for a disabled person to be a model than a model pretending to be disabled, I guess this wasn't socially acceptable until now. Either that or I'm just too cynical for my own good.

I don't really like things like this. Obviously it's a good sign that she's been employed at all, and good for her, but I don't like it when companies announce it and hold themselves up as paragons of acceptance. Perhaps it's just me being cynical, but I believe that this world will only be truly tolerant when stuff like this can happen and we don't have to report it. Sure, she's gotten in, but do you think other disabled people will now that the media has already covered her?
I doubt it. So if that happens, which I think it will, then it hasn't really changed anything then has it?

Still, good for her. It does help that she's quite attractive, but I concede that it is quite an achievement as they go.

Well... she is fair hot...

Good work world, were getting closer to becoming accepting and not racist/sexist/perverted race of people

I think it's already a great achievement to be able to stay so trim being stuck in a wheelchair.

its empowering. at least people will say that now. and then in like a few decades it will become "exploitation" sort've like the feminist rights movement! personally. more power to them it shows that disabled people can be models too.

Furburt:
I don't really like things like this. Obviously it's a good sign that she's been employed at all, and good for her, but I don't like it when people announce it and hold themselves up as paragons of acceptance. Perhaps it's just me being cynical, but I believe that this world will only be truly tolerant when stuff like this can happen and we don't have to report it. Sure, she's gotten in, but do you think other disabled people will now that the media has already covered her?
I doubt it. So if that happens, which I think it will, then it hasn't really changed anything then has it?

Still, good for her. It does help that she's quite attractive, but I concede that it is quite an achievement as they go.

This. Pretty much.

I dunno.

Knowing she broke her neck... makes me wonder if she's quad- or paraplegic and then I just think that she's a living, breathing version of a mannequin, being placed where they want and forcibly dressed and arranged.

I mean models are essentially the same, kind of, but the actual physical positioning of a human as if she's a mannequin is kind of disturbing for me.

Also cynical of the company, being all "oh yes we have a disabled model :D" when clearly yes, she's very easy on the eye and quite thin and appears well-proportioned, considering she's wheel-chair bound. Or she's very heavily photoshopped.

I think when something like this happens, whenever a minority does something that hasn't really been done before, that there is inevitably a kind of transition period, which will throw up some vaguely shameful stuff. So it may feel exploitative right now, but that will fade as a stigma if we get more disabled models following the path.
Does anyone remember the fuss when Kirk kissed Uhura? There was one, due to the racially charged atmosphere at the time. It was kind of shameful looking back, but it had to happen. Or the disabled UK kids TV presenter, whom some parents complained was scaring their kids? Stupid, but inevitable, and it faded away.
The point I'm making is that trailblazers will get a lot of publicity because of what they do. Some will be good, some bad, but it's easier for those who follow them. Maybe this seems like Debenhams is exploiting her for publicity, but that is good business sense for them. And if they keep it up, and have further disabled models in the future, than great. Disabled people can then aspire to be models. A crap career choice if you ask me, but it's another small step towards equality.

Go for it, why not? Debenhams get their rocks off and more money, disabled people get more dignity (to go along with their unconditional love and money they receive) and another social boundary is broken.

She looks fine. She's doing her job. Go figure...

She's attractive, isn't that the only thing required to be a model? Well it hasn't been for years, but it SHOULD be.

Congrats to her. I find her attractive, and I wish there would be more models who, like her, are actually attractive.

I have to say I'm in agreement with most, as a photo model, she doesn't need to be wandering the catwalks, so there shouldn't be anything to stop her being successful, except perhaps the idiots in the industry wanting her to lose some weight. I don't know how much ability of movement she has, and I feel like it'd be rude to ask, but if she needs a helper, she's always needed one and it shouldn't be any different to do it as part of a modelling career than it would be getting dressed for a regular day.

I only say that because she's attractive and not skeletal, and it seems some areas of the fashion industry are not happy with a model until the UN air drop food parcels onto the catwalk.

I've never understood the need for skinny models anyways, surely the greatest ad would be seeing your clothes looking good on a 'normal' but attractive woman?

Well she is still pretty.

I doubt shes like the first disabled model ever though.

I strikes me as though Debenhams is exploiting her, in that only got the job BECAUSE she is disabled and Debenhams wants to appear PC and accepting of minorities. It's going to take some doing to convince me that lots of models showed up for the job and they gave it to her despite the fact that she is disabled, but maybe I'm wrong.

EDIT: Also, the fact that she is posing with the wheelchair makes me more cynical. Why is it important that she is disabled? Surely if it was truly a step towards equality they wouldn't need to flaunt the fact.

I'm glad that this happened. Another barrier of discrimination has been broken, I suppose.

Furburt:
I don't really like things like this. Obviously it's a good sign that she's been employed at all, and good for her, but I don't like it when companies announce it and hold themselves up as paragons of acceptance. Perhaps it's just me being cynical, but I believe that this world will only be truly tolerant when stuff like this can happen and we don't have to report it. Sure, she's gotten in, but do you think other disabled people will now that the media has already covered her?
I doubt it. So if that happens, which I think it will, then it hasn't really changed anything then has it?

Still, good for her. It does help that she's quite attractive, but I concede that it is quite an achievement as they go.

Although I do agree with this. The day we stop speculating on stuff like this is the day discrimination is truly gone.

They're not discriminating, good, but the whole media praise and general praise they will probably get from this isn't all that good. It's almost exaggerating the fact she's disabled.

But still it's a good thing overall.

I think the total number of disabled employees at Debenhams, and the amount of facilities they have to aid them, would be far more representative of the companies real attitude to disability. This seems more of a PR move.

As far as modelling goes, I'm not sure of my views on the uniformly (and unnaturally?) slim models. Sure, it's portraying an unhealthy ideal of beauty, or rather, glamour, so diversity in the field is an excellent step towards not advocating a specific body type. Even though the industry is heavily geared towards body aesthetics, it discriminates too harshly at the moment. But the ridiculous physiques kinda add to the fantasy vibe.

But as far as disability goes, I feel I'm probably against it being presented in an obvious manner if the product is aimed at a typically fully capable demographic, simply as it wouldn't appeal to the lowest common denominator. And the reminder of a serious handicap on the models part could be a distraction.

Modelling has no practical reason to deny work to the disabled, so I suppose it's just a matter of whether the general public would accept seeing obviously disabled models advertising products not specifically geared towards those sharing their handicap.

It's good that the modeling industry is using more that stickly "i could blow on them and they'd fall over" models. However the fact that these guys are out loudly saying to people "ooooo look at us we're accepting see loook" is a bit much.

 

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