representations for models of all abilities clothing advertisement, photo of Ali Stroker for Aerie

Representation for Models of All Abilities in Clothing Advertisement

Written by Delaney Wickert

The popular athletic wear company Aerie has recently expanded their cast of clothing models to include individuals with a range of abilities. Aerie, a product of the popular clothing store American Eagle, has previously made strides in changing the culture of beauty representation in media through their promise to stop editing photos of their models wearing their clothing, in an effort to promote diversity and inclusivity of all body types. Aerie has continued to make efforts to represent diversity in their model campaigns through hiring models of all abilities to represent their clothing line. Their inclusion of these models shows visible disability representation throughout their brand. The company started a campaign in which they select a group of women who they name their “Role Models”. These women are selected who inspire positive change through their efforts, and make up a group of individuals stemming from diverse backgrounds, and possessing a range of abilities.

Previous Aerie Role Models who represent the disabled community have included Gold Medal Paralympian, Brenna Huckaby, a world champion snowboarder, included in the Aerie Role Models campaign in 2019. Brenna is commended for her fearlessness as she is a 3-time world champion snowboarder and mother, who has had to navigate losing her leg to cancer. Brenna uses her Role Model spotlight in order to encourage fearlessness, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone, as she believes mindset helps dictate success.

Molly Burke, a part of the 2020 Aerie Role Model Campaign, is a popular YouTuber and social media influencer who lost her sight at 4 years old. Molly is creating change through her motivational speaking and by sharing how she has overcome adversity in her life. Molly is committed to breaking stereotypes surrounding disability by sharing her lived experience on her social media platforms. Molly describes in her article on the Aerie website ‘“I’m making a difference by authentically sharing my story as a disabled woman, and not sugarcoating it or choosing to conform to the mold that people think I should fit.”’

Ali Stroker, a Tony Award Winning actress, and the first woman to use a wheelchair on Broadway, was also featured in the Role Model campaign. As a child, Ali always wanted to be a performer. Even though she had never seen someone using a wheelchair on Broadway, she decided to create that representation, and become a role model to those like her. Ali is now an accomplished singer and actress who inspires change on and off Broadway.

In addition to the Role Models Aerie highlights, they have also worked to represent women with visible disabilities and illnesses throughout all components of the advertisements, including models living with downs syndrome, insulin pumps, ostomy bags, wheelchairs, various support devices, and exhibiting a range of conditions such as fibromyalgia.

By showing visible disabilities and illnesses in their models, Aerie shows representation that many companies lack. Other brands have included multiple body types or gender expressions in their campaigns, however very little disability representation can be seen in clothing advertisements. Aerie’s inclusion of models ranging from all abilities, as well as highlighting those in the community who inspire positive change, help to set the precedent of disability representation in the modeling and advertising industry.

To get to know more about the Role Models mentioned visit:

Information About Breanna Huckaby

Information About Molly Burke

Information About Ali Stroker

Learn more about the Aerie Real Model campaign here.

Bibliography

Contributor. (2018, July 21). Aerie model brings national attention to ostomy awareness. United Ostomy Associations of America. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://www.ostomy.org/aerie-model-brings-national-attention-to-ostomy-awareness/

Get to know #aeriereal role model Brenna Huckaby. #AerieREAL Life. (2019, April 25). Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://www.ae.com/aerie-real-life/2019/01/31/get-to-know-aeriereal-role-model-brenna-huckaby/

Isabelle, Lizzie, & Collins, M. (2020, January 23). Ali Stroker, Tony Award winning actor. #AerieREAL Life. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://www.ae.com/aerie-real-life/2020/01/23/ali-stroker-tony-award-winning-actor/

Kim, S. (2020, February 3). Aerie continues to include authentic disability representation -Ali stroker joins #AerieREAL role model family. Forbes.Retrieved October 27,2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahkim/2020/01/31/aerie-disability-representation/?sh=52520aeb50bd

Martha. (2020, January 23). Molly Burke, YouTuber & motivational speaker. #AerieREALLife. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://www.ae.com/aerie-real-life/2020/01/23/molly-burke-youtuber-motivational-speaker/

Role models. #AerieREAL Life. (2021, August 17). Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://www.ae.com/aerie-real-life/role-models/

KYLEND Trainee Spotlight: Nicholas Hoffman

KYLEND Trainee Spotlight: Nicholas Hoffman

Meet Nicholas Hoffman! Nicholas is a fourth-year student at Eastern Kentucky University’s Doctor of Psychology program and is currently enrolled in classes and accruing hours to sit for the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst exam as he works toward becoming a Licensed Psychologist and Behavior Analyst.

Nicholas currently provides services through the EKU Psychology clinic as well as a local private practice. Nicholas has previously worked in a community mental health clinic, as well as a  state psychiatric hospital. All of this work has focused on neurodevelopmental disabilities, particularly with autism. 

Nicholas is currently enrolled as a trainee in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. LEND is a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 

These programs share the overall mission of improving the health of infants, children, and adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. LEND aims to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening and diagnosis, as well as support to individuals and families.

Through the LEND Program, Nicholas hopes to learn more about interdisciplinary consultation, and looks forward to incorporating the perspectives of self-advocates in his work.

Visit www.hdi.uky.edu/kylend to learn more. Contact the Kentucky LEND Project Director caroline.gooden@uky.edu with any questions or to schedule an informational session for your department and interested students!

ASL Team standing in front of SERID Conference poster

ASL Team delivers services at Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness

This past October, the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting Team, housed at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, traveled to Orlando, Florida to deliver services at the Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness (SERID) Conference.  SERID is an annual conference that OVR State Coordinators for the Deaf in the Southeastern United States coordinate and deliver to health professionals, employers, consumers, educators, and others who provide supports to the Deaf, hard of hearing, Deafblind and/or late Deafened individuals. 

Kentucky was well-represented by Lisa Amstutz, Tara Eversole, Sarah Grubb, Chelsea Naugle, and Christina Vice who provided communication access to conference participants and gained knowledge from colleagues in their field to enhance OVR consumer services.  

The 2023 SERID Conference will be in Charlotte, NC and will return to Kentucky in 2025.  For more information about the conference, visit www.serid.org

Article photo of Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones

Time to Change Our Thinking About Disability in Kentucky – Kentucky.com Editorial by Kathy Sheppard-Jones

Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Ph.D., is executive director of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI).

Roughly one in three people in Kentucky have a disability. Recent data found 75% of Kentuckians without disabilities are employed, compared to 32% of those with disabilities. Before COVID, 84% of Kentucky employers had job vacancies. Now the workforce itself is undergoing shifts, as workers quit their jobs, reimagining their worker-identity and work preferences, and restructuring their work-life balance.

However, we can bridge these gaps. Kentucky is an Employment First state, making competitive integrated employment the expectation for people with disabilities. This can build an inclusive workforce, if we are willing to meet the moment, and break the cycle of economic insufficiency for disabled Kentuckians.

Disability is a variable, not an outcome. Disability continues to have so much stigma attached to it, that we try to distance ourselves from it. For those of us who experience disability, it is part of who we are. Yet, we are continually reminded that disability is not valued. We try to minimize it. I had a conversation with a colleague who said, “I have a disability, but I hide it as best I can.”

Another colleague mentioned helping a family member find a job, remarking, “He’s ADA, but never brings it up, and isn’t going to be a problem for anyone.” The ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act. While this law is necessary and ensures basic rights of people in community, employment and public programs, it is often insufficient. By calling a person ‘ADA’, we de-humanize people and set the stage for adversarial encounters.

We must raise expectations about what is possible and what good careers look like from the earliest ages. It is never too late, but it is much easier to start planning for transition from school to work when we read to our children, and dream of what could be. Early childhood can be a time of wonder and exploration. Families need to be able to dream about the future too. It is up to us to share the stories of people who are working, living safely in their communities, and who have the supports needed to make choices about their lives.  

Let’s provide intervention to injured or ill workers at risk of leaving the workforce. Too often, it’s not the injury or illness that is the biggest issue. It’s the cascade of events that happen when one becomes disengaged from their job, loses their paycheck, and faces the resulting economic instabilities. We also must remember that many work tasks can be accomplished in different ways.

We have to stop equating disability with disability benefits. The presence of a disability does not mean that someone cannot work.

More likely, the supports for successful work are not available. There are many misconceptions about people who receive disability benefits. In reality, the systems where people find themselves are often broken, complicated, and siloed. People with disabilities are too often put on pipelines that are very different than the pipelines for talented, skilled workers. Education and training help advance careers. These avenues must be accessible, available and welcoming to all.

Consider this definition of inclusive workforce: An inclusive workforce is one in which the unique skills, contributions and diversity of qualified individuals, including those with disabilities, are actively recruited, valued, and integral for success. It is an environment where the engagement, development, retention and advancement of an increasingly skilled and diverse workforce is promoted and supported across all employment sectors and levels.

Let’s re-think what disability means. Let’s work together for a healthier, more robust, more inclusive workforce.

This article represents the opinions of the author and not that of the University of Kentucky. 

The article can be found at https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article268583417.html#storylink=cpy.

LEND Trainee Spotlight: Meet Hope Leet Dittmeier

KYLEND Trainee Spotlight: Hope Leet Dittmeier

Meet Hope Leet Dittmeier! Hope has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over forty years. Hope has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation from the University of Kentucky, and her work is guided by Social Role Valorization (SRV) theory.

Hope’s interest in the LEND program stems from her three-year-old grandson, Axl, who was recently diagnosed with Autism. Hope is determined to be the best grandmother, YaYa, to him. She achieves this by providing him with assistance to be fully integrated into his home, school, and community and by doing whatever it takes to provide him joy, belonging, and pride.

Within the past fifteen years of her forty year career, Hope has served as a trainer and consultant in Ireland, India, Australia, and Canada. 

She currently serves as the Executive Director at Mattingly Edge,  a non-profit organization that serves the Louisville community. Mattingly Edge cultivates partnerships which enable people with disabilities to thrive in environments such as at work, at home, and in their relationships. Hope was instrumental in transforming Mattingly Center’s previous large-congregated and segregated adult day health care program into Mattingly Edge which provides 100% customized, individualized, and community-based support. 

Hope is currently enrolled as a trainee in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. LEND is a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 

These programs share the overall mission of improving the health of infants, children, and adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. LEND aims to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening and diagnosis, as well as support to individuals and families.Visit www.hdi.uky.edu/kylend to learn more. Contact the Kentucky LEND Project Director caroline.gooden@uky.edu with any questions or to schedule an informational session for your department and interested students!