Special Needs Now

RJ Mitte and the Inspiring Trend of Models With Disabilities

Vivienne Westwood - Runway - Milan Collections Men SS16
Designer Vivienne Westwood recently had a super-cute guy walk the runway at the Men's Fashion Week show in Milan: RJ Mitte. Full disclosure: I've had a crush on him since Breaking Bad (my husband is OK with this). It's partly that he's just plain hot, and partly because he gives me hope for my son, Max. Like RJ, Max has cerebral palsy. Like RJ, Max has Really Good Hair.

The 22-year-old actor signed with model agency Elite London; this was his catwalk debut, reports the Los Angeles Times. Mitte also appeared in a Gap ad last year. To which I say: More, please. Not just of RJ, but of models with disabilities on runways.

In February 2014, Danielle Sheypuk became the first-ever woman in a wheelchair to rule the runway in New York Fashion Week at designer Carrie Hammer's show. Her theme: Role Models Not Runway Models. This past February, Hammer's show featured Jamie Brewer, a beautiful young actress with Down syndrome. Also at February's New York Fashion Week, leg amputee and British model Jack Eyers strutted his stuff for Antonio Urzi while FTL Moda had a group of models with disabilities work the runways. It's not just happening here in the United States; at the Tenbo Fall 2015 show in Tokyo, designer Takafumi Tsuruta had disabled models including blind Paralympic gold medal swimmer Rina Akiyama and Ami Snow, who finished the show rolling down the runway in her wheelchair in a wedding dress.

To me, there's no place where people with disability like my son shouldn't be included, so seeing models with disabilities on runways is heartening. (Especially if they happen to be RJ Mitte.) This seems to be a trend, although if it were to become an ordinary thing, that would be even better. As Jack Eyers has said, "I just want to show that having a disability doesn't need to hold you back. I want people to see me, and to realize that there needs to be more disabled models walking the runway."

Ellen Seidman is a mom of two, editor, and professional snacker who blogs daily at Love That Max. You can find her pondering special needs parenthood and other important topics (such as what her next snack will be) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ even though she still hasn't totally figured out what that is.

 

Image: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Life with Cerebral Palsy