A wheelchair is not a fashion prop

editorial cartoon by Jacob Bogdanoff and Des Delgadillo
editorial cartoon by Jacob Bogdanoff and Des Delgadillo

One day after Kylie Jenner’s Lip Kit by Kylie line was launched, Jenner made headlines again, this time for her photo shoot for Interview magazine in which she posed in a gold wheelchair.

A wheelchair is not a prop to be used as a fashion statement for a photo shoot. For some people, a wheelchair is their only means of mobility.

Many disabled people can go to school, go to work and enjoy social activities only because of their wheelchairs. Otherwise, they would not be able to go anywhere. The wheelchair serves as a tool for freedom that some people rely on for everything they do on a daily basis.

However, Jenner, an able-bodied celebrity, is simply treating a wheelchair as a prop, as if it is just another chair. It is insulting and mocking to those who need to use a wheelchair on a regular basis. Jenner may not understand the consequences of her actions, because she never had to live a life depending on a wheelchair.

Jenner is also receiving backlash from models with disabilities, because they often get photo shoots canceled due to their statuses. Or worse, they may not get any jobs at all due to their disability. But Jenner, who is privileged to be able to stand and walk on her feet and receive photo shoot invitations, is posing in a wheelchair as a prop simply because she can.

Amy Richardson, an English model with disabilities but who does not need to use a wheelchair all the time, voiced her concerns online.

“If disabled people weren’t excluded from the fashion world then there would be no problem with able-bodied people using wheelchairs in fashion. It would all be equal. But right now we’re almost invisible,” Richardson said.

Richardson said when photographers see her wheelchair, her photo shoots would be canceled.

Models in wheelchairs often cannot find work because of their immobilized states, and Richardson believes if a photographer wants to do a photo shoot concept with wheelchairs, then disabled models should be the ones modeling. However, Jenner was most likely used because she gets attention just because of who she is.

In response to Jenner’s photo shoot, Erin Tatum, a 24-year-old who uses a wheelchair on a regular basis recreated the infamous photos and posted it on Tumblr to show an authentic version of how people with disabilities look in a wheelchair.

“If being in a wheelchair is trendy now, I’ve apparently been a trendsetter since before Kylie was born” was a part of the post’s caption.

The post quickly went viral and has over 127,000 likes and reposts on the website.

Although Jenner’s photographs are creating backlash, she is currently doing an anti-bullying campaign, “I Am More Than,” on her Instagram account, where she features people who are often bullied. Ironically, a few days before her Interview photo shoot was released, Jenner featured a disabled artist, Audrey, on her Instagram, and part of the post includes the campaign hashtag and Audrey’s words “#iammorethan my wheelchair.”

While Jenner may have shown concerns for disabled people in the past, her recent photo shoot shows the complete opposite, whether it was intentional or not.

As a public figure, Jenner should be aware of the choices she makes and the consequences that arise as a result. A wheelchair may not mean much to Jenner, but to people with disability, looking at a wheelchair brings back years of memories. A wheelchair is not a fashion prop, and Jenner should have known better.

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Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Campus Times Editorial Board.

Jacob Bogdanoff
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