Why Are Kylie Jenner and Other Models Demeaning Disabled People? [Photos]

Last December Kylie Jenner posed in a wheelchair for the front cover of Interview magazine, which sparked international outrage. Moving her legs, wearing high heels, posing as a plasticy barbie doll, was not intended to raise awareness or money for spinal research. And she, as others before her, continues to offend the disabled.


For some reason numerous photographers, publications and celebrities use disability and wheelchairs, offending those suffering and the many others who are sensitive to their confinement. In Vogue’s February 1995 issue, model Nadja Auermann sported thigh high hose and high heels, moving her legs to reveal that she did not actually need a wheelchair.

Vogue’s February 1995 issue, Helmut Newton Model: Nadja Auermann

For some reason, Steven Klein continues to profit from using disability as a fashion prop. For V Magazine in 2015, he set the scene with model Joan Smalls in a wheelchair, also wearing high heels:

Here is a sample of one of Steven Kleins previous shot earlier in the year using model Joan Smalls in a wheelchair for for V magazine.

And, Ben Hassett of Hassett Photography/Hassett Fashion and Fashion Editor of Vogue Paris, along with Minéral Photographers, Fashion Photography, Paris Bijoux, and Catherine Mcneil attempting to glamorize being confined to a wheelchair, again, in high heels:

Ben Hassett, Hassett Photography, Hassett Fashion, Fashion Editor, Vogue Paris, Minéral Photographers, Fashion Photography, Paris Bijoux, Catherine Mcneil

In 2011, the Roman Reed Foundation criticized Lady Gaga for using a wheelchair stunt during a concert in Australia:

Dear ladygaga how about using your celebrity status 2 try 2 get us out of wheelchairs. Instead of cruising one. Cool?!”

But recently, one woman spoke out drawing attention to what it is like to live in a wheelchair. Committee Board Member of the UK-based Spinal Research organization, Lorraine Mack, a c4-5 tetraplegic posted on Instagram:

I hate every minute of being a prisoner in a chair. … Get a life and realise there are people struggling every day living in these and wanting to get out of them!”


Lorraine formed a support group with other women called, Cure Girls, to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries and money for spinal research. They state:

We want to show the world what it’s really like living with a spinal cord injury as we feel society has pictured it being basically acceptable for us to accept our injuries and move on with life, but people really don’t understand the daily struggle of living with a spinal cord injury. Some of those factors are: Constant 24 hour care needing carers if you’re tetraplegic-needing help with even being washed and dressed and fed, breathing on a ventilator if you’re a very high level injury. Constant health problems which include bladder infections, autonomic disreflexia, osteoporosis, spasms, pressure sores, use of catheters, no bladder or bowel function, no sexual function, assisted coughs, constant chronic neuropathic pain, having to take lots of medication that’s without all of the psychological problems. The list is endless!”  

Others posted their outrage as well:

Spinal Research Executive Director Mark Bacon emphasized that the lack of government funding for spinal research and associated cures is a serious problem that needs to be remedied:

There are a number of reasons why there is little support, little money going into spinal research. One is that the numbers are very low, but one thing people don’t realise is along with the numerous side effects of spinal cord injury is the financial burden, many need 24-hour care, which they need to fund themselves. There is also the issue of loss of earnings and equipment costs. There is also the attitude that if you’re paralysed, you’re paralysed for life, but that just is an attitude. What we see is a celebration of disability,  but what you don’t see is the chronic neuropathic pain. There is often a rosy view of what it is like to be paralysed.”

Kylie Jenner can afford to wear high heels and move her legs while sitting in a wheelchair. But the thousands of Americans who cannot, also cannot afford to pay for their equipment or care.

July 6, 2016

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