Meet the blogger inspiring people with disabilities to wear what makes them happy
Its frustrating that this is still the case, but its rare to see someone with a disability in the world of fashion.
The lack of body diversity in the industry extends beyond size and skin colour, leaving many feeling excluded.
Think about it: When did you last see a fashion ad featuring a model with any form of disability?
Thankfully, while disabled representation hasnt made its way to the mainstream, its out in full force on Instagram. On the internet sit pockets of online communities where those with disabilities can share a love of fashion in a space that feels genuinely inclusive.
Leading one of those body-positive pockets is Sophie Bradbury-Cox, also known as @fashionbellee.
Sophie, 30, loves colour. A quick scroll through her Instagram and youll feel like youre dancing through a rainbow – its pure joy.
And thats important. For so many of us who dont fit the narrow definitions of beauty were told to ascribe to, its tempting to hide away and choose clothes that let us blend into the background.
Choosing bold, bright colour instead is a powerful statement – one that Sophie hopes will inspire other people who use wheelchairs to wear whatever makes them happy.
Sophie uses a wheelchair because she has spinal muscular atrophy type three, which means her muscles are extremely weak and she cannot walk or stand.
Shed love to work in fashion, but currently works full-time as an administrator for a financial adviser, so does all her fashion bits on the side.
She hopes that simply by sharing her interest in fashion, shell push for change for all other fashion-lovers with disabilities.
Ive always dreamt of having my own clothing line which caters for disabled people but particularly people in wheelchairs, Sophie tells Metro.co.uk. Because were sat down day in day out, clothes fit differently to our bodies and we need them to work for us in a non-traditional way with fastenings etc.
Also due to my condition, having bad circulation in my legs means my feet need really wide shoes. There are some specialised companies that will do this but Id never want to wear them because theyre not stylish enough!
Something needs to be done for disabled people who want to dress comfortably but in a fashionable way.
I want to inspire people and in particular people in wheelchairs. When I was growing up there were no role models in wheelchairs, no one who could show me that you can dress fashionably and be sitting in a wheelchair at the same time.
I want to show other disabled people that there are no restrictions, to be proud to be disabled and to wear whatever clothes make you happy!
For Sophie, the clothes that make her happy are rainbow bright.
If you ask my mum, all my life I have loved colour, in everything from my bedroom décor to the clothes I wanted to wear growing up, says Sophie. It just makes me happy to wear.
Dont get me wrong, sometimes a pair of jeans and a white tee is perfect but my wardrobe is full of colour and I love showing people that its easier to wear than you think.
I love the fact that you can express yourself through fashion, the fact you can be completely unique and different if you want to be.
Its difficult for me to follow a lot of the trends because of being in a wheelchair as some of them just arent suitable for me sitting down or for my body type, so I just dress for me. I wear what I want to and feel most comfortable in.
Weve still got a long way to go before we can truly call the fashion industry inclusive; and the journey doesnt start and end with which models are picked for advertising campaigns (but that is really important).
Bloggers like Sophie want to remind brands that yes, people with disabilities do exist, and yes, they would like the option of wearing great clothing – so brands need to make their pieces accessible to everybody.
That means change starting from the design process and going right up to how clothes are sold.
But just acknowledging customers with disabilities in marketing campaigns would be a good place to start.
So much needs to change in the world of fashion, says Sophie. Its great that companies are now featuring more plus size models but as for disabled people, theyre nowhere to be seen.
Rhere needs to be more diversity in advertising campaigns and on the catwalks because I want to see real people in the clothes and not just one generic unrealistic type of person.
The world is made up of millions of different types of fascinating people and the fashion industry needs to reflect this.