This Model with One Arm Wants the Fashion Industry to Embrace Disability

Image is everything in the fashion world, which is why Kelly Knox is putting hers out there.

Knox, a 31-year-old model, is fighting her way into the fashion world for individuals with disabilities. Knox was born with one arm and never believed she was different. She never thought of herself as being disabled because that was the only life she knew, and her family and friends never treated her as if she were disabled.

Knox “never had to use the word disabled.”

“I felt it was quite a negative word. I just didn’t see myself that way,” said Knox.

Kelly Knox is leading the way for a growing movement in the fashion industry, emboldening brands to embrace individuals with disabilities. She stands by her word when she says that people with disabilities are just as capable of being a part of the fashion industry as any able-bodied individual. Diversity is becoming more accepted in the fashion industry, but there are still some topics that need to be uncovered — and Knox is here to do just that.

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“When people think of diversity in fashion, they think of size, they think about color. Maybe they’ll think about age. But they don’t really think about disability. And I think disability should be part of the diversity agenda that has to be addressed in fashion,” said Knox.

She goes on to say: “People say there aren’t enough black models on the catwalk, or there aren’t enough plus-size models on the catwalk, but you do see them. We’re still the most invisible group.”

Knox took matters into her own hands when she created Diversity Not Disability, a campaign that “promotes the equal representation of disability models across all platforms of the media — creating body image by the choice of models we see in fashion and beauty campaigns, magazines billboards, and on TV.”

Knox is a body positive, disabled model who is pushing the limits when it comes to the standards of beauty.

“If you’re surrounded by difference, you’re more accepting of difference. And it’s time we learnt to appreciate a different kind of beauty” – Kelly Knox.

Society has created an unfit mold of the human body and the image of beauty in general, and for decades society has taught young individuals that there are very few bodies that are “beautiful.” Today, there are many figures in the limelight — Knox being one of them — who are able to sway the industry’s body/beauty norms by presenting themselves as strong, confident, and beautiful.

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