Sex sells but can this concept work for people with disabilities too10 May 2012
We are constantly bamboozled with media advertisements on a daily basis, which are filled with half naked models that have been airbrushed within an inch of their lives.
I’ve always had an interest in modeling, and wanted to be a model when I was a teenager, and even considered joining a face and hand-specific modeling agency, but after trudging around Sydney, to countless - wheelchair inaccessible, I might add - cattle call style castings, with a model friend of mine, I just didn’t feel as though I would ever be accepted into that superficial world, so I ditched that dream, but it will always remain that. A dream….
For Jes Sachse, who’s a 27 year old Canadian girl with a genetic disorder, called Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, she decided to take the mickey out of the fashion industry, to prove that you don’t need to be a tall, emaciated looking sex kitten to embrace your sexuality.
Jes, who has unique facial characteristics, different leg lengths, and a severely curved spine, as a result of scoliosis; which are all a result of Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, got together with a college friend, Holly Norris, to recreate a series of provocative American Apparel advertisements.
Holly, who is a photographer, wanted to showcase her idea in a photography festival that was being held in Toronto, Canada, where her images of Jes would be displayed for a month, on electronic screens around subway stations.
Holly’s idea was to mimic some of the controversial ads, by large US clothing manufacturer, American Apparel, which often showed women in nothing but socks and undies and posing in sometimes sexually explicit ways. Some of the ads were banned from being shown because they were thought to demoralize women.
Jes was happy enough to pose the photo series, where she was photographed wearing tight and revealing clothes and often in just socks and undies.
Holly, who did the photography series as part of an assignment for a woman and popular culture class at University, chose to recreate the American Apparel ads because they claim that they don’t use professional models, and only use everyday women, but Holly disagrees with this statement, as all of the women in their ads have extremely similar body types.
Jes is a real everyday woman, and she prides herself on being stylish, confident and sexy, in her own way. But despite receiving warnings from people who didn’t agree with her participation of the exhibition, she went ahead with it anyway.
The pair hoped that this series would highlight that what is sexy to one person, may not be the same to someone else. Holly received permission directly from American Apparel, to publicly display her work, which she named ‘American Able’.
I think Jes is so brave for agreeing to be in this series of photographs. I mean, personally, I think that I’m a pretty confident person, but I’m not sure I could be photographed this way, and have the pictures displayed publicly. Well done Jes!
If you’d like to read more about Jes and Holly’s story, click on this link: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/05/14/can-disability-be-sexy/8048/