Kit Steinkellner
March 10, 2015 1:15 pm

This year’s New York Fashion Week was all about inclusivity (which we LOVED) and it looks like the trend of putting diverse models front and center is going to define the 2015 fashion in a significant way.

As WomensNews.org reports, the androgynous online retailer Tomboy Shop is leading the charge by hiring differently-abled, wheelchair-using Danielle Sheypuk to be a face for their brand.

Sheypuk, a clinical psychologist, made headlines in 2014 when she became the first model in a wheelchair at New York Fashion Week, a move that helped lead to a more inclusive Fashion Week this year.

“My wheelchair is just a part of my body – an extension of me – and I’m the main focus, not the chair,” Sheypuk told ABCNews at the time.  “That’s how I look at it and I moved that perspective to the runway.”

Now, Rachel Grossinger, founder of Tomboy Shop, has promoted Sheypuk from runway model to one of the faces of Tomboy line because she is committed to a brand that speaks to as many people as possible. That said, she wants the focus to be on this gorgeous girl, not her motorized wheelchair.  “I don’t see [Danielle] as any different from any of us,” Grossinger explained to WomensNews in a phone interview. “When you are around Danielle the wheelchair is just an object in the room.”

“The wheelchair is there but it is not a big blazing highlighted wheelchair. It’s just another body type,” explains Sheypuk. “That’s it.”

Meanwhile, Sheypuk acknowledges what it means to be redefining fashion’s rigid beauty standards. It’s a big deal, and it’s received that way.

“All the designers that have used models with disabilities so far they have good intentions,” Sheypuk acknowledges. “But it’s so few and far between and infrequent that it becomes like more of a social statement than about the product.”

Last year, blogger and all-around badass, Jill Mercado, made a huge statement when she landed Diesel and Nordstrom campaigns, posing in her wheelchair and proving to retailers that body diversity is both beautiful and embraced by consumers.

Sheypuk’s new campaign is further proof of this. It’s thrilling to see a fashion brand take another step in expanding the definition of what it means to be a model and our fingers are tightly crossed that we’ll see many more big moves like this before the year is through.

As for Sheypuk, her goal is simple. She hopes that people, especially those with congenital disabilities, see her in the new Tomboy campaign and “feel good about their bodies.” That’s just a beautiful goal to have.

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