Rolling with sexiness

Nermin Hassan

Nermin Hassan

Rolling with sexiness

It’s time for the wheelchair model to make an appearance in lingerie advertising.

Unleash that inner animal
you beautiful human being...
Chrissy Teigen showing her
stretch marks on social media
And it's back! The all time favourite tiger stripe print returns for Autumn/Winter 2018 of which fashion brands such as Roberto Cavalli and Carolina Herrera have been quick to showcase. The gorgeous Teyana Taylor has also modelled this traditional print for the Genevieve collection of lingerie brand Agent Provocateur. But that's not the only stripy print in season right now. More and more celebrities such as Ashley Graham and Chrissy Teigen are refusing to hide their own natural tiger stripes by choosing to proudly show off their stretch marks on social media, which is a statement that calls to be in for all seasons - for as long as fashion will go!

It's such a breakthrough to start seeing the representation of real bodies in this perfection seeking era that we live in and is something the public should feel influenced by, to eventually stop trying to hide what society labels as 'ugly' - including, the wheelchair.
In image (above) Curvy woman used in Ann Summers Lingerie advertising.
In image (above) Curvy woman used in Ann Summers Lingerie advertising.
We now have models with diverse races and body sizes modelling under-garments for leading lingerie brands such as Figleaves, Ann Summers and Wolf & Whistle and would be even better if wheelchair models were also included so that wheelchair users too, can feel identified.

Singer Rihanna has also produced her own lingerie line 'Savage X Fenty' back in May 11th 2018 which is promoted by models ranging from different race and body sizes. Rihanna's popularity worldwide is a huge advantage in this, as choosing to free the exposure of real women's bodies to her fan base of millions, for sure, will leave many females all over the globe feeling influenced to feel confidence within their bodies too.

I continuously buy lingerie from the brands Coco de Mer, Bluebella, Pour moi, Ann Summers, Agent Provocateur and Victoria's Secret as they are all undeniably as seductively beautiful as each other but am very sad to say as a wheelchair user that there's nothing out there on the advertisements of these sultry lingerie garments to be modelled by a wheelchair model when clearly wheelchair users who wear these items such as myself do exist.

Unfortunately, No popular lingerie brand has yet promoted their lingerie via using a wheelchair model, which disappointingly excludes the representation of 15% of the world's population who are disabled. Yes these figures may have not reached everybody's ears, but surely the blue disabled logos placed nearly everywhere in the U.K. can't be missed? Oh come on, you know we exist. We just want to exist in fashion advertisements also, without the fuss, as how able-bodied people do. But for wheelchair models to exist without the fuss, we have to make a fuss so that people see that we exist…

The more wheelchairs are presented in successful lingerie brands as Rihanna's 'Savage X Fenty', Ann Summers and Victoria's Secret, the more the eyes of the large audiences that they have already will get used to seeing them and instead of society labelling them as 'differently disgusting', will see past their disability and see them as real women. - Real women, who carry exactly the same values and rights to want to look, feel sexy and admired just as the able-bodied women who model the garments and like those who buy them. This would also benefit the companies positively as it would for the wheelchair users of the world to be recognised, as the brand's target audience would increase along with its profit.

Of course, it's not only about including wheelchair models into the fashion shoot itself but actually also promoting wheelchair suitable lingerie so that all women of different abilities can feel comfortable and sexy at all times. It seems to me that wheelchair users aren't considered worthy of being included in any lingerie advertisements judging by their lack of appearances. This lack of exposure assumes an attitude that the wheelchair is thought to have an 'off-putting' image that will make the woman sitting in the chair look 'less attractive' leading to loss in sales of any brand that would choose to promote this.

A property manager of Georgia based Lingerie brand; Livi Rae, had asked it's co-owner to remove the 'body positive' campaign posters that were put up on the store windows that including plus size models and wheelchair users modelling the brand's lingerie. The property manager described them as being of 'poor taste' but thankfully was defeated by Livi Rae's co owner Lilly Hopkins who strongly refused to remove the images which represent the world's real women and won the case.


Livi Rae
Livi Rae's Body Positive Campaign posters on store windows
This sort of foul behaviour towards the image of wheelchairs and disability is something disabled women all over, are trying to change. If women have fought determinedly for the world to see diverse race, diverse sexuality and diverse body sizes as a norm in high-end fashion advertisements, then the same determination will also be used in the fight to include wheelchair models and disabilities in the fashion industry.

The striking beauty of the Victoria's Secret angels can't be denied as they strut the catwalk with their gorgeous structured cheekbones and toned slim bodies, but what would the public think if they saw the one and only Adriana Lima rolling down the catwalk in a wheelchair if she ever were to need one? Would this be seen as 'poor taste' also?

Her eyes are mesmerizingly beautiful, as is her face, her hair and her aura, everything is as perfect as it gets with the supermodel but what would change about her aura if she were to present lingerie for Victoria's Secret in a wheelchair instead? Would the brand sales go down? Would people start to see her as weak and passive and think less of the brand's standards? Is a wheelchair thought to make a person seem worthless and unattractive? What about her mesmerizing eyes? Her face? Her hair? Her aura? Her body? Would that all be forgotten if she was a wheelchair user? How can you suddenly drop one of the most recognised and beautiful women in the world to be being unrecognised as beautiful just because she uses a wheelchair?

This seems a pity already to even think about happening to Adriana's health and status (who we hope to be forever blessed with full health) imagine how it already feels for female wheelchair users that have model potential who aren't even being considered to represent fashion brands? Like those of Livi Rae who
were about to be removed from the store windows?

Since when was a woman's aura about her sensuality and femininity based on her ability of health? If international women's day is celebrated every year which boasts about all values connected to our gender and is plastered on every lingerie brand's social media, then, we wheelchair users deserve to be included in there too.
Author here, has Muscular Dystrophy
I interviewed three British ladies to discuss the prejudice disabled women face, whom all three, like myself, are wheelchair users and have perfectly fine relationships and intimate lives despite the underrated labels they are given e.g. 'UN-dateables' which was the name of a show aired on Channel 4 featuring disabled people and their journeys of dating.
Emma Lines, 20
How do you feel about the lack of wheelchair representation in lingerie advertisements?
Zebedee model Emma Lines
has Charcot Marie Tooth
For me, it's more so the shops, catalogues and brand's websites where I have noticed the lack of wheelchair representation.

Disappointingly, I have gotten used to not seeing it, but that's because I am a wheelchair user, I wouldn't think able-bodied people can understand how it feels like to not be represented out there in the media. Models with disabilities and wheelchairs need to be included in lingerie advertisements also so that the more it is seen, the more it would help familiarise the public's attitudes towards wheelchair users
What do you have to say to people like the property manager of Livi Rae who think a wheelchair in lingerie advertisements is seen as ‘poor taste’ and would think the chair dulls down the shine of the model and brand?”
I would say that they need to open their eyes and actually see the model that is in that wheelchair. The wheelchair is what enables a person with limited mobility to be free, to see the world and to even be in that lingerie advert – that’s the beauty of a wheelchair. A person who thinks it dulls down the model and brand isn’t looking at the whole picture to see the strong, independent, powerful and sexy model promoting the lingerie. I’m sorry but is there really much difference between an able-bodied model sitting down on a seat in lingerie and a model sitting down in a wheelchair in lingerie?! The person should not be defined by the wheelchair but by the person who they are!”
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to tell us regarding wheelchair models entering catwalks and lingerie photo-shoots for successful brands?
Having wheelchair models in catwalks would add another dimension and more character. It would make the current audience more open-minded. The fashion industry’s successful brands promoting their clothes by using wheelchair models, would broaden the customer interest as more disabled people would consider their range and feel more accepted by that brand!

Disappointingly, I have gotten used to not seeing it, but that’s because I am a wheelchair user, I wouldn’t think able-bodied people can understand how it feels like to not be represented out there in the media. Models with disabilities and wheelchairs need to be included in lingerie advertisements also so that the more it is seen, the more it would help familiarise the public’s attitudes towards wheelchair users.
What do you have to say to people like the property manager of Livi Rae who think a wheelchair in lingerie advertisements is seen as ‘poor taste’ and would think the chair dulls down the shine of the model and brand?
I would say that they need to open their eyes and actually see the model that is in that wheelchair. The wheelchair is what enables a person with limited mobility to be free, to see the world and to even be in that lingerie advert – that’s the beauty of a wheelchair. A person who thinks it dulls down the model and brand isn’t looking at the whole picture to see the strong, independent, powerful and sexy model promoting the lingerie. I’m sorry but is there really much difference between an able-bodied model sitting down on a seat in lingerie and a model sitting down in a wheelchair in lingerie?! The person should not be defined by the wheelchair but by the person who they are!
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to tell us regarding wheelchair models entering catwalks and lingerie photo-shoots for successful brands?
Having wheelchair models in catwalks would add another dimension and more character. It would make the current audience more open-minded. The fashion industry’s successful brands promoting their clothes by using wheelchair models, would broaden the customer interest as more disabled people would consider their range and feel more accepted by that brand!
Hayley Walsh, 44
Hayley, getting ready to party,
has Muscular Dystrophy
In recent times, an amputee model named Kelly Knox asked fashion journalist Caroline Baxter why disabled people haven't been represented in Fashion shoots and Baxter replied with how using a disabled model would “stop the picture being about fashion”. What do you think about Baxter's reply?
Disgusting. We are not the disability or the wheelchair. The chair is our way to get about. You should always look at the person not the chair.
What do you think about the negative stigmas that revolve around femalewheelchair users and people with disabilities being seen as not being able to date or have any sex lives, with labels such as ‘Un-dateables’ from the name of the show aired on Channel 4 of disabled people’s dating journies?
There should be no stigma around being disabled because we can still date, we can still have sex and we can still dress to impress and wear the latest trends.
What do you have to say to those who think females in wheelchairs are not able to be seen as sexy enough to ‘successfully’ promote lingerie as well as able-bodied models?
It's the 21st century, disabled people need to be heard now. We shouldn't be put on the back burner because we use a wheelchair or have an arm missing. Disabled people are sexy no matter what but most importantly; to emit sexy, you have to feel sexy in your own body first. You can wear sexy clothes but you must feel it yourself within.
Lynda Carter, 55
How do you think the public would react to finally seeing a wheelchair model promoting garments for a popular lingerie brand?
Lynda, wining and dining,
has Muscular Dystrophy
If this happened, it would give the type of disability the model has (say for instance a spinal cord injury) a big boost in public knowledge and that type of disability would become top of the tree. But it’s good that it would start being presented somewhere, as currently there aren’t any.
Has your chair ever made you feel less sexy?
The wheelchair is part of me it’s like owning a sports car that a model would lay across in her sexy underwear, there’s nothing to not look and feel sexy about. I have been with my husband since the age of 16 and have been in a wheelchair since the age of 26, he always tells me I’m sexy and we have a great sex life.
Do you have any other comments about disability and wheelchairs to be used in the fashion industry that you would like to share with us?
Everyone no matter what ability/disability they have, they all deserve to be treated equally, to live life as, when and how they want. We are all the same.
If disabled veterans were only allowed to serve for a maximum of 22 years and get given recognition for their efforts made to save the country then those disabled women who have been tackling obstacles as tough as army tasks with day by day deteriorating health - for longer than 22 years, deserve to have the chance and spot light to show the world how she can carry a female's essence of sensuality, sexuality, femininity, vulnerability, motherhood, sensitivity, elegance and strength to keep spreading her aura by motivational speeches, humanitarian acts or simply by existing to show that they can carry on despite the difficulties and the constant adapting to deterioration in strength she is facing every day. If being fiercely sexy isn't something that needs recognition then I fail to understand what else is needed to be considered a part of the media's current representation system of what qualities a real woman is required to have. Please allow me Mr. Barack Obama, to demonstrate again, the mic drop.