Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Disabilities Can Be Beautiful Too!

23 Dec 2009I would like to introduce you to a lovely young lady; Elvira from Melbourne Australia. Despite being born with Type II Spinal Muscular Atrophy, she has the spirit of a fighter who never gives up.

At 23, she says she doesn't feel disabled, even though she uses an electric wheelchair full time to get around. In fact, she thinks she needs to remind herself and her friends of the fact sometimes.

Elvira is studying at university part-time for her bachelor in Social Work, and will be begining a leadership course in 2010. She tries to be as independent as possible, regardless of needing help with daily chores that most people take for granted. Catching the train to and from Uni and into the city can be difficult if there is no access but Elvira knows what stations are wheelchair accessible which makes it a whole lot easier for her to get around on her own.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy affects 1 in 10,000 babies and in UK studies, 1 in 50 people are carriers of the gene that causes it. If both parents are carriers, there is a 1 in 4 chance that their baby will develop Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

It is a disease that deteriorates the muscles working its way from the spine out to the limbs, so babies may be born with no sign of it and around six months of age, show signs by not having full muscle strength in their neck ect.

In Elvira's case, she was able to walk a small amount by holding onto things when she was younger, but is now confined to her wheelchair full time.

Sufferers can develop problems with swallowing (which may require the use of a feeding tube), breathing and other respiratory complications. Many babies with the more severe type don't live past 2 years and other types vary, but the general life expectancy is shorter than people born without SMA.

A new show in the UK aired this year, called Britain's Missing Top Model, which is a reality television show similar to the Next Top Model series that began in America with supermodel Tyra Banks. Missing top model has one difference, the seven contestants all have a disability, ranging from hearing impaired to paraplegia. The winner, Kelly Knox, who is 23 and was born without a left forearm, now models through Angel Sinclair's modelling agency.

Elvira began discussions with Angel Sinclair, who founded the group Models Of Diversity. Angel believes that all women, regardless of age, race, disability, height or weight should be able to show their beauty through modelling. She asked Elvira to start a similar group in Australia, which she has done through Facebook.

Elvira feels very passionate about being part of this group, not only being a beautiful girl with a disability, she also used to be overweight and is a strong believer that beauty isn't always on the outside. Elvira, who got up to a size 22 has inspirationally lost all her weight and credits the weight loss to watching what she ate very carefully.

As for Elvira's view on Britain's Missing Top Model, she thinks it's a great concept as it will show the public how people with a disability cope with different problems that arise on a day to day basis. Along with myself, she would love to see a version of this show come to Australia, it is going to be made in the US next so who knows! It may help to remove some of the stigma attached to the public perception of someone with a disability.

Elvira's main goal is to prove to the modelling industry that they should be more open-minded about the types of models they use. That there is beauty in difference. She wants there to be as much recognition in Australia about diverse models as there is in other countries.

Elvira is an amazing young woman and I am proud to call her a friend and have her on my side, fighting along with me for the rights of people with disabilities.

As Elvira said, “I believe that people with disabilities are around for a reason, to teach others about compassion. I want to use my disability for the better and not think of it as a burden”. Well said, I couldn't agree more!

To take a look at the Models Of Diversity group click here - http

To see more about Britain's Missing Top Model, click here -

Elvira as 'Queen Bee'

Modelling shot for 'Models Of Diversity'

Modelling shot for 'Models Of Diversity'

'Models Of Diversity' logo

Would you like to comment on this article?

  Enter these characters into the red box
Please type the red letters and numbers into the red box above. This is to protect our system from SPAM and viruses.

Previous Comments

Kenya from Richmond Va posted on 29 Mar 2013
I have a learning disability and Speech Delay I still live my life as another good day. I love your story its makes me wonder if I was in your shoes it would be challenging but a reward at the end.

Elizabeth Lee from Oceanside Ca posted on 21 Feb 2013
Hi, I have SMA type 3. Elvira is doing Great. I just was diagnosed in 2012. I am 19 years old and I wish I had enough confidence as this woman. Right now I am using a walker, but tomorrow I am getting fitted for my power chair. It has a mouth piece so when or if I ever get paralyzed. My doctors say that most people don't live past the age of 22. But look at Elvira! She is so brave. So far when people see me, some of them only see a disabled person that they feel sorry for. and there is a few people that just have no compassion and put them self right in front of my walker and wont let me pass them.Part of me feels that my life would be better if I wasn't Born this way, But things could always be worse.

Amine from Morocco posted on 2 Apr 2011
what a beautiful girl .god bless her .

Mary from Victoria posted on 1 Feb 2010
CONGRATS ELVIRA soo beautiful inside/out. You have encouraged me to face the day..To work hard at my Disability....Depression. Thank You

Debbie from Marks Point posted on 19 Jan 2010
How beautiful is Elvira. Who would know she has a physical disability, GO FOR IT ELVIRA........ YOU ARE CERTAINLY A MODEL. CONGRATULATIONS. Debbie

Debbie from Marks Point posted on 24 Dec 2009
What a wonderful story. It makes me so proud that there are beautiful people out there, that have something different about them. They don't have a "disability", and, of course ARE MODELS OF DIVERSITY. Something that everyone should give a great

Blog Archive

Focus on Ability 10th anniversary
Posted: 8 Feb 2018

Focus on Ability Short Film Festival 2017
Posted: 6 Jun 2017

2016 IASSIDD World Congress Day 4
Posted: 18 Aug 2016

2016 IASSIDD World Congress Day 3
Posted: 17 Aug 2016

2016 IASSIDD World Congress Day 2
Posted: 16 Aug 2016

A better way of describing the autistic spectrum
Posted: 2 Jun 2016

Ouch Disability Talk Podcast
Posted: 7 Apr 2016

Have you heard of Anosmia
Posted: 5 Apr 2016

When society thinks you'd be better off dead
Posted: 31 Mar 2016

I'm not being anti-social
Posted: 29 Mar 2016

Time to think about how to create a more inclusive Australia
Posted: 23 Mar 2016

World Down Syndrome Day
Posted: 21 Mar 2016

Copyright © 2024 Nova Employment Limited