The New ‘Top Model’ for Disabled Girls Might Make Fashion People Look Really Ignorant

The cast of . Photo: Courtesy of BBC3

Perhaps you've heard of the new BBC show, Britain's Missing Top Model. It's a reality show in which disabled girls compete to win a photo spread in a top glossy magazine and representation by a top modeling agency.

Today the papers offer a look at some of the contestants, all of whom are quite beautiful. Debbie Van der Putten lost her right arm in a bus accident but posed for Playboy last year. Kellie Moody is deaf and can hear nothing without hearing aids. Jessica Kellgren-Hayes requires a wheelchair to travel long distances, since she has Hereditary Neuropathy with liability to Pressure Palsies (HNPP), which can cause her to be paralyzed at any time (she once paralyzed a leg after a night out dancing).

The Daily Mail reports the point of the show "is to challenge the boundaries that seem to exist in the beauty and fashion industries and cast new light on our concept of the ideal woman." We think this is a great idea. However, we're also interested to see how other people on the show — photographers, runway coaches, stylists — will come across.

Take for example Marie O'Riordan, editor of British Marie Claire, and one of the show's judges. She told the Daily Mail:

'When I first heard about the programme, my immediate thought was would it all be women in wheelchairs,' she says. 'And I knew that if it was going to be some sort of freak show, I didn't want to be involved.


'But I very quickly realised there are many disabled people who are not in wheelchairs, and that is just one of the many preconceptions we all hold about disability.

Really? Not all disabled people are confined to wheelchairs?! Thanks for setting the record straight for, you know, all of us.

Those comments aside, we'd guess not many people in the fashion industry are familiar with the physical limitations of a person who has, say, HNPP. We can't help but think they'll throw around lots of off-color comments, like O'Riordan's, when it comes time to do an interview about how a photo shoot went. We're keeping our fingers crossed for them.

The disabled beauties still fighting to become models [Daily Mail]