To feel pretty or even normal when you have a chronic illness or disability is tough, I should know, I have Pan Ulcerative Colitis and Seizures. The amount of pain we all face when sick daily is unexplainable and to put on a happy face every day can be tough let alone to feel pretty.
For decades the runway was only for the “perfect” body but lately, things have changed as the world evolves. D’Arcee Neal’s, a black, gay, disabled advocates quote “My disability is a part of me, but it does not define my whole identity. It does not define my worth, my value, or what I can or cannot do,” is something to live by. Regardless of our disease or disability, we can still be great and if anything makes us stronger!
Fortunately, there are companies out there that see the beauty in us and casting those with a disability or chronic illness in fashion and entertainment jobs. Aerie’s newest lingerie line, as part of the Aerie “Real” collection, casted models with illness and disabilities for their recent photo shoot.
Per People, the pictures had several different un-retouched women that included those who have disabilities, chronic illnesses, scars, stretch marks and are cancer survivors. One woman is seen using crutches, while another posed in her wheelchair. Women who use insulin pumps and colostomy bags are also featured. As someone who has chronic ulcerative colitis, my biggest fear has always been what if I have to get a colostomy bag? Will I still be confident and feel good carrying it around? Thankfully this campaign along with several other changes on “image” within the industry has made it possible for the general public to see the beauty in us all, ailments or not.
“Now, more than ever, we want to encourage women everywhere to feel empowered to embrace their own unique qualities and beautiful real selves,” Jennifer Foyle, Aerie Global Brand President, has said.
One of the models from this photo shoot, Abby Sams, wearing a black lace bralette in her wheelchair, shared her excitement for the campaign on her Instagram. “I am PROUD to say I’ve done this. PROUD to be a part of it. PROUD to be a model representing a community of disabled and chronically ill people. PROUD to be comfortable in my own skin,” she wrote.
“Being a model in a wheelchair for a major company is kind of a big deal and I want to be transparent about it all. Confidence is hard to come by and even harder to master.”
This isn’t Aerie’s first photo shoot as part of their “Real” line, they have had previous shoots with women un-touched up with various diseases and disabilities including women in every size. It has taken me over a decade to become comfortable and confident after getting diagnosed with Pan Ulcerative Colitis. Thankfully companies like Aerie make it easier to feel confident with your body again, even if it’s just a bra or panties. For more information or to shop Aerie’s Real line please visit: https://www.ae.com/search/real.