Disabled models are finally being given the visual representation in the fashion world that they’ve been demanding for years.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans with any kind of disability, now is the time to seize your moment and become a disabled model. After all, you’ve worked to cultivate your own sense of style for years, and you’re proud of how you’ve made your clothing work with any disability accessories you need to wear.
You want to show the world that you’re just as capable of rocking the latest trends as anyone else is.
However, you also know that the fashion world can be an ableist, cruel, and unaccepting place. You want to believe that big brands have your best interests at heart, but you’re nervous about how life works for models with disabilities.
Consider this post your ultimate guide on how you can join the ranks of the world’s biggest disabled fashion models.
Build Your Individual Brand/Portfolio First
Just like everyone else in the modeling game, your first step toward becoming a disabled model is to build your own portfolio.
Make sure that you show yourself in a variety of different outfits, hair/makeup looks, settings, and positions.
Especially if you have a physical disability that requires you to use a walker, cane, or wheelchair, you’ll likely have to fight against stereotypical beliefs of abled people by showing them that you can offer tons of posing diversity no matter what.
Get creative, and don’t be afraid to use your accessories as a prop or even decorate them.
Additionally, we can’t stress the importance of hiring a professional photographer above all else. Having your photos taken by someone with a knowledge of lighting, posing, angles, and even retouching when needed can make all the difference in the world.
Once you have a solid first set of portfolio photos, upload them on your modeling social media account (have a separate one for your models with disability brand.) Research hashtags popular among disabled models and start following other popular modeling accounts. You should also follow brands you like and want to work with.
If you have any of their clothing, upload pictures of yourself wearing it and be sure to tag them.
That’s step one toward getting noticed as a disabled model.
Sign up with an Agency for Disabled Models
Just like there are specific loans for disability, there are also specific modeling agencies for disabled people.
Sure, social media can help to turn you into a micro-influencer and might even land you a few random gigs. However, if you truly want to build a career, you’re going to need to find an agent.
Look up disabled modeling agencies online and send them an email or shoot them a DM on social media. Ask who you should contact to set up an appointment and whether or not they’re currently looking for new models.
Make sure you also use resources that help you locate disabled casting and open calls. Show up for both print and catwalk open calls. Additionally, remember that there are lots of different kinds of modeling.
An agent will help you learn how to properly walk, perfect your poses, and teach you how to use your disability to your advantage when modeling and networking.
If you don’t want to or can’t work with your entire body, you can still become a hand or foot model. If you have prosthetic limbs, talk to a company about the power that comes from showing off their gloves or jewelry on your prosthetic arms and hands.
Network with Disabled Model Groups
Whether you’re a special needs model, have a facial deformity, or have any other kind of condition, the good news is that there’s no shortage of support out there.
There are lots of nonprofits and commercial organizations alike that exist solely to help models with disabilities make it in the fashion world.
First of all, connect with other disabled models online or at meet-up events in your city. There are lots of conventions and online forums made specifically to help you all get to know each other.
Also, look into popular modeling agencies and organizations for disabled models like VisABLE and Zebedee Management.
Your Disability Helps You to Stand Out
You’ve always known your disability made you different. Perhaps you’ve grown tired of the constant stares, glances, questions, and comments in your “real life.”
But in the modeling world, your disability—whether seen or unseen—makes you stand out. Don’t be afraid to use it.
Show companies they should work with you because you’re more than just a model, you’re also an advocate for the disabled community. Every gig gives you the opportunity to empower disabled people everywhere.
You’re Ready to Become a Successful Disabled Model
Now that you’ve read through this guide to becoming a successful disabled model, it’s time for you to get your career started.
This means you’ll need to be familiar with the biggest names in fashion, understand recent trends, learn what works to get you attention on social media, and even experiment with hair and styling.
It’s a lot, we know!
But don’t worry. Our blog is here to teach you even more about the world of male modeling, no matter what your look is or the kind of work you want to do.
Keep checking in with us to learn about opportunities, how to improve your poses, and much more.