We intervieww Becky Dann - Photographer, Graphic Designer and Disability Activist
We think its great that you have decided to make a stand showcasing that having a disability doesn't make you any less beautiful and that you shouldn't hide just because you are living with one - what inspired you to create a project that explores the stigma around disability when it comes to dating?
It's something I have thought about since my first day at University when I first started using dating apps. I was really self conscious and so didn't show my disability in photos in the hope that people would get to know me and then the disability wouldn't be an issue for them. But as time went on, I would tell the guy I was speaking to and they would just disappear, like I was nothing which was upsetting. I decided to give it a go where I showed photos and made it clear from the start that I had a disability, but I noticed that this actually meant that I barely had any people wanting to speak to me. I found it frustrating and because I noticed a real change I decided to explore it as part of my second year project. This actually became almost therapeutic to me and I started to really grow to accept myself and my body, I realised that I was trying to hard to have guys like me, but I realised that the ones that were running away when they found out were just not the right guys for me and eventually I will find someone that can see past the disability.
We admire that you are putting your work out there despite your initial reluctance to do so so we'd like to know how would you like your projects to impact others who share your condition?
For me, I want these photos to encourage others with my condition and any disability to feel beautiful and love themselves for who they are. It's so powerful for people to embrace how they look. Too often were encourage to change how we look to achieve perfection, but I think we should love ourselves for how we are. I've had people approach my through social media with Scoliosis saying they'd seen my photos and it made them feel less alone which means so much to me. I remember googling Scoliosis when I was younger and seeing no one with it as pronounced as mine and I felt like I was weird, so I wanted others with spines like mine to know that they're not alone.
Here at Models of Diversity, we're all about diversity and fashion – how would you describe your own sense of style?
My fashion is so varied, and I love that. I follow fashions as they change but also love almost everything. Currently I'm loving cut jeans with fishnet tights underneath with big hoops and braided hair, but then I also love wearing a cute jumper tucked into a denim skirt with heels. My statement accessory is big hoop earrings.
Would you say that you are able to find adaptable clothing that is representative of your style?
I find it hard with clothes, there is quite a lot I can wear, but I'm the type of girl that changes fashion constantly and so there are times when things are in fashion that I really love but can't wear because of my back and that is frustrating (backless tops for example). Also because of my height I feel like finding jeans and jumpsuits is difficult. I sometimes have to shop in the kids section for jeans to be able to find skinny shorter jeans. Also I cant wear many dresses because they're always too long on me and make me look even younger than I am.
I once got a dress from Etsy which I loved because I was able to contact the maker and give exact measurements of my body and so the dress was made custom and it made me feel so good to be able to wear a dress and it fit.
At London Fashion Week, Teatum Jones are making a stand by using more models with disabilities in their shows. Do you believe that there is enough being done in regards to the amount of disabled models being used or do you feel that there needs to be more change?
I think there has been a lot of work with disabled models on catwalks etc which is fantastic, but I definitely think there's a lot more work around getting disabled models in mainstream media such as TV adverts and magazines. I'd love the day I saw an advert on TV for clothes or make up, modelled by someone with a disability. Same for magazines! I'd be so much more likely to buy something modelled by someone with a disability because I find it so empowering and real.