When they hear the word "model," a lot of people picture a particular kind of woman, namely that tall, leggy, young thing that's plastered all over billboards and magazines. That's the standard of beauty we've been conditioned to expect. It's also exactly what the creators of Raw Beauty NYC are attempting to break down.
The series depicts women embracing their bodies and personal beauty looks. It was started by six women, including Wendy Crawford, herself a former model. "I had been injured in a car accident, caused by a driver who had been drinking, which left me a quadriplegic at the age of 19 — just as my modeling career was starting," she explained in an email. "After my accident, I experienced the world from a different point of view. I began to see how beauty was perceived in the eyes of [others], and women with disabilities were not considered beautiful."
Crawford and her colleagues set out to change these perceptions. "We truly hope that we can challenge the unrealistic standard that exists today, and demonstrate that there is beauty in confidence, strength, and uniqueness," she said. And, while the project focuses on those living with different types of disabilities, that's only part of the story. It reads as a collection of photographs documenting strong, interesting, and gorgeous women.
"This is important for all women, not just those with disabilities, for now and for future generations," Crawford said. "Through awareness, we can transform stereotypes of women with disabilities. We can show the world that it is possible to overcome obstacles and to lead a joyful, fulfilling life, and in turn, empower others to do the same in their own lives."
She hopes that Raw Beauty will serve as inspiration and ignite conversation. "The Raw Beauty Project showcases these women as examples for all women, because everyone has their own challenges in life," she said.