Last year, Katie Knowles, 25, from Jesmond, became Britain’s first ever disabled model to place in a beauty pageant, coming in third place.
Katie is now an Ambassador for Models with Disabilities and working with Models of Diversity (www.modelsofdiversity.org).
She has put together a petition, campaigning the government to put some pressure on the fashion industry and to put down some regulations in place in regard to the use of disabled models.
Katie has, what she calls, a “Granny Disease”. At 15-years-old she was diagnosed with disc degenerative disease, spinal stenosis and prolapsed discs, which is extremely rare at such a young age, leaving her with a degenerating spine.
Unfortunately, a recent surgery left her with severe nerve damage down her right leg, resulting in Katie needing a crutch to work.
Despite this, she doesn’t let it get her down. Katie continues to break boundaries and recently got involved with the Riding for the Disabled Association which keeps her going.
Katie considered herself disabled three years ago, and since then has graduated with a law degree, lost four-and-a-half stone and is currently at Northumbria Law School, doing an LPC training to be a solicitor.
Believe it or not, the last visible disabled person involved (modelling) at London Fashion Week was in 1998 (Aimee Mullins, McQueen.) That was 14 years ago.
Katie said: “Often the liability for disabled models is too much for them, with the concern catwalk width. Their main concern is insurance, which is understanding but far too often it is used as an excuse.
“Why can’t we just have an equal opportunity. My disability doesn’t define me. Personally, I see it as a bit of added flavour.”
Katie goes on to explain that it’s true unless disability affects you personally, or someone close to you then you are generally blind to it. There’s a stigma around disability and we need to change that.
For Katie, and the wider disabled community each signature on this petition is a step in the right direction. It only takes two minutes to complete.
The minimum amount of signatures needed is 10,000. The petition needs just under 8,000 more to be recognised.
Sign and share to give Katie and other Models with Disabilities an equal chance.
WATCH and LISTEN from Katie herself on Fashion North’s Youtube channel:
SIGN the #DISABILITYFIGHT4FASHIONRIGHT petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/109259