BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The headshot clinic at the Atrium on Seneca Street Saturday sounded like a typical photoshoot, with music bumping and the cameras clicking away.
But the look was all about changing the face of beauty and what we see in the advertising campaigns all around us.
“The disability community is the least seen community in the advertising world,” said Julie Schaus, the headshot coordinator for the Changing the Face of Beauty organization, which put together Saturday’s headshot clinic.
Models of all backgrounds and abilities turned out for the clinic Saturday for their chance to shine.
“I was awesome. I was a super model,” said one of the models, Madisyn Ross, who has Down syndrome.
Ross is hoping her turn as a model at this weekend’s clinic will take her far.
“I love to dance and sing, and someday I’m going to be on the Disney Channel,” she told News 4.
Organizers say those big dreams are really what these headshot clinics are all about for models with disabilities and their families.
“Our headshot clinics have traveled worldwide, and they go into communities to empower communities to push the talent industry to represent,” explained Katie Driscoll, the president and founder of Changing the Face of Beauty.
At each clinic, photographers donate their time, and salons like Bella Amore donate their services to give each model the full star treatment.
The models said they loved the experience, and for many of those who make it possible, the mission is personal. “So my daughter Shay sees people like her out there in the ad world and she knows that she isn’t that different,” Schaus said.
Right now, Schaus admits, most people don’t even notice how few models with disabilities are represented in the ad campaigns we see every day.
“But once it’s in people’s faces, they’ll see it,” Schaus said. “Let’s think back a long time ago, it was just what, your typical white person. Then we got more diverse. And now you see so many diverse people.”
The goal is to see a lot more diversity in the future, with more and more of the models who take part in these clinics booking jobs with some of the biggest brands in the world.
“In the past six years, we have put the first woman with Down syndrome on the runway at New York Fashion Week. A lot of our models have been seen in major advertising campaigns,” Driscoll pointed out.
“We are passionate about helping our partners have access to the talent they’re looking for,” she added.
To learn more about Changing the Face of Beauty, click here.