On the first day of New York Fashion Week, a beautiful blonde woman named Danielle Sheypuk moved down the runway of Carrie Hammer’s fashion show. Wearing sky-high heels and designer clothes, she was like any other model who catwalked the Big Apple’s annual couture parade — except she did it while sitting in her wheelchair. As Women’s eNews reports, Sheypuk is the first model in a wheelchair to grace NYFW’s runway.
According to the designer, Sheypuk’s catwalk left excitement in the air and the audience feeling empowered. “I made the decision to cast ‘role models not runway models,'” Hammer, who specializes in clothes for professional women, told the publication in an email. “It is so important to me that women have positive body image and are empowered in work and their life. My line makes dresses to fit women. We don’t make dresses that women need to fit into.”
Let’s face it: The fashion industry is one that’s often preoccupied with perfection that can project an unrealistic image of women. But Sheypuk, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and has been in a wheelchair since she was 2, wants to break the mold. “People with disabilities need to see it,” said Sheypuk, who was crowned Ms. Wheelchair New York in 2012 and works as a clinical psychologist. “It’s a confidence booster. It’s like, ‘If she’s doing it, I can do it. Who cares about my wheelchair?'”