Just as good

We’re full swing into the Paralympics and these athletes are doing an amazing job! Seats are filled with people who are speechless as they watch athletes perform with all the passion, energy and drive of any other top ranked athlete.

I love the attention the media is giving to these games although much more can be given; but the fact that people are waking up and recognising that differently-abled athletes are worthy of acknowledgement since they provide what everyone is looking for which is good entertainment, good athletic ability and heart-warming stories to go along with them is a very notable feat.

I’ll go into more detail about the games in the very near future, however today I wanted to share something that is definitely newsworthy and ground breaking. So often in the media we are bombarded with so many negatives that even though the positives exist, they are usually overshadowed.

Let me introduce you to “Deafinit Models”, an organisation established in 2002 as a development and booking company exclusively representing deaf models; men, women and children nationwide and internationally. They train, coach and manage deaf models in all categories annually and also produce fashion shows and model boot camps for their client roster, which includes petite and plus-size models.

Not only that, but they have also been able to book their models in magazines, commercials, music videos, fashion shows and photo shoots with notable designers and fashion photographers.

Why I really like this movement is that it voices what many have not only been saying for years but have fought for in more ways than one; which is to show that the deaf can and are capable of doing what any of us can since their so-called “disability” is unseen and based totally on communication. This is also why I try so hard to let people understand that there is nothing wrong with the deaf mind.

We have a deaf model here in Barbados, Danielle Depradine, and I’m sure when people see her on the catwalk they have no idea that she’s deaf. I actually think the deaf mind is brilliant, however, because of how most people have been taught about the deaf, they actually believe that deafness and low brain activity go hand in hand. Nothing could be more farther from the truth.

Deafinit Models executive director and model coach, Sheree Devereaux has truly put a lot on the line for this group to be walking the path of success which it is currently on since the fashion world is not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination to enter! However, to be able to put a product out there that gets the attention of the top people in the industry not because of a sympathy vote but because it’s a product of excellence and quality speaks of the hard work, thought and dedication which has gone into this project.

The irony of all of this is that generally speaking, modelling is one of those professions where once you have the goods and talent you’re good to go, so not giving the deaf an opportunity based solely on deafness is either ignorance or discrimination at its highest.

I also find that even when persons are trying to show models in general how to stand, look, pose or even walk they, the persons in the industry, actually show you how they want you to do it, so you actually end up copying them! I’ve seen it many times. The person in charge of the show would say: “No… walk like thi!” and then proceed to give an example. Perfect for a deaf model.

It also gives the opportunity for all persons involved to get creative with communication. We never realise how good we are at it until it becomes a necessity. Being able to function with persons who are a little different from us is something which we do on a daily basis and in almost every case they are people we live and work with. Sure, some of those differences are subtle while others are more blatant, but those differences allow us to learn to adapt to each other and situations in order to live.

Differences are usually painted in a negative light but differences can be very much positive. I also believe that differences help colour the world in which we live as they allow us to come out of ourselves and see people and things from a different perspective and point of view that we would have otherwise not noticed or even understood.

So when next you pick a magazine out of a store rack, see a commercial or even see a “hottie”, whether male or female, strutting their stuff on the catwalk, you just never know if there are a deafinit model who is doing their thing and making a name for themselves in the field; because after all, how would you even know the difference?

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