Purchasing power behind disabled models

来源:有人杂志   作者:纪寻   2015.04.29 17:27  浏览1091
摘要:It is easy to imitate the idea of hiring models with disabilities. However, compared with providing a platform for disabled models to perform in a fashion show, it is much harder and more important to substantially improve the living condition and social status of people with disabilities, particularly by providing them with equitable working opportunities.

On February 6, 2014, a model in New York Fashion Week drew worldwide attention. Carrie Hammer, a designer with a newly customized brand for women, invited a model in a wheelchair to show her brand. This model was Danielle Sheypuk, a female doctor of psychology. She became the first model using a wheelchair in any of the four major fashion weeks. Similarly, Diesel also hired a model in a wheelchair to participate in its global advertisement this year. The model is 27 year-old Jillian Mercado, who is not only a patient with muscular dystrophy, but also a fashion editor and blogger. Thanks to her love of fashion, she interned at many important fashion companies, wishing to take fashion as a career. When Diesel was looking for more diverse models, Jillian applied and was selected. She was photographed with several other supermodels for the advertisement, which was published in the famous fashion magazine Vogue, a magazine that is read world-wide.

Danielle Sheypuck, the model who participated in New York Fashion week, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in consulting about sexual relations for people with disabilities. As a "New Yorker," she likes to visit the liveliest place in New York City to date and to make friends. Once she revealed her feelings: "the difference between those people and me is that I am sitting while they are standing." When the fashion designer Carrie explained the reason why she chose Danielle as her model, she said she appreciated women who know themselves very well, like Danielle. She appreciated the guts and the positive attitude possessed by Danielle. Instead of people conforming to clothes, clothes should be designed for people. Everyone has the chance to enjoy the right of pursuing beauty and happiness. People with disabilities are also a group of consumers with a purchasing power that should not be ignored. As Diesel model Jillian Mercado said, “many people feel their life is over when they are disabled,” however she wishes to tell them that people with disabilities also deserve a really wonderful life.

From the perspective of fashion brands, employing models with disabilities provides an opportunity for a publicity stunt that draws media attention, however it also helps to trigger a greater social discussion regarding equal rights when models with disabilities are hired, a move which will eventually bring more social benefits to the brands. Of course, in this process, these brands also target the multicultural consumer groups of American society.

America is a country formed by immigration, consisting of multinational and multi-ethnic people. Multiculturalism has triggered the discussion about racial discrimination and inequality -- the biggest social problem in America, but multiculturalism is also a social and cultural asset of which the Americans are proud. It is the knowledge of immigrants that brings prosperity to the country.

Many people of different ethnic backgrounds and minorities establish non-government organizations and communities to actively advocate their equality in American society. In this progress, among them, some people become particularly successful. They establish businesses, make TV programs, and operate non-profit organizations... They regard minority groups as their consumers and customers for their services. For example, in the United States, some supermarkets target Chinese consumers, and some cater to customers from South Africa, and other types of media and consumer locations likewise target specific consumers. With social reform, more and more minority groups have the opportunities to study and work, which makes their quality and financial capacity improve, and in return, these groups, as consumers, advance their local economy. This is the business opportunity brought about by multiculturalism.

As a group that is the most represented within minority groups, people with disabilities have also drawn attention from the business world with their needs. In the late 70’s, following an accident, Marilyn Hamilton, a sports- and adventure-loving woman, had no choice but to live in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. The wheelchair weighed up to 60 pounds, and made Marilyn desperate as she had hoped to continue playing sports. She asked one of her friends, an engineer, to help modify this heavy and clumsy wheelchair into a flexible and lightweight one. In this way, the Quickie wheelchair was created. This wheelchair, as one of the lightest sport wheelchairs during that time, helped Marilyn not only win Singles & Tag Team Championship in the American wheelchair tennis match of 1982, but also allowed her to enter the medical equipment market, which has sales in the tens of millions of dollars. This led to Marilyn becoming a famous American female entrepreneur.

Ushering in the new century, the laws of protecting American disabled people are improving, and at the same time there is an improvement of social and medical services provided for people with disabilities. Compared with the past, people with disabilities are getting greater support from all of society. They have opportunities to study in famous universities, and get good jobs after graduation. Danielle, the model we mentioned above, works at a clinic as a doctor. These improvements allow people with disabilities to earn a living and support themselves, rather than having to depend on government aid as was the case in the past. Therefore, it is not surprising that those fashion brands are also regarding these disabled people who can afford brands as an important group of customers, and are constantly developing this market with great potential. Underlying the decision to hire models with disabilities is the respect of Americans for people with disabilities, their interest in protecting their equal rights, and the importance of appreciating and supporting their working ability and purchasing power.

Some people propose that fashion shows can also be arranged for disabled people in China. I think this is a fine idea, of course. It is easy to imitate the idea of hiring models with disabilities. However, compared with providing a platform for disabled models to perform in a fashion show, it is much harder and more important to substantially improve the living condition and social status of people with disabilities, particularly by providing them with equitable working opportunities.

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