Drawing on feminist disability theory, women with disabilities (WWD) from the Global South and Global North and their allies, collaborated to create and perform a series of fashion shows to identify, share, unmask and subvert the reification of able-bodied beauty in global fashion. Queer crip theoretical perspectives on “compulsory able-bodiedness”, a phrase originating from Robert Mcruer (2002), shaped the ways that this participatory action research (PAR) and Communications for Development (C4D) project addressed dehumanising and disempowering social norms that perpetuate higher rates of violence against WWD.
The framework afforded different cohorts of WWD to collaborate, and to purposefully lead in the challenging of harmful social norms that impact their lives. These contributions offer valuable new cross cultural insights into intersectionality which are shared via the creative outcomes of the fashion shows. They also contribute particularities to the body of knowledge around WWD’s embodiment of disability, their resistance to “compulsory able-bodiedness”, and the possibilities for feminist disability activism to transform understandings of beauty within the normative global field of fashion and society more broadly.
Members of PAR team collaborated with different cohorts of 30 women with disabilities together with varying additional partners, to co-create and perform five unique live staged fashion shows as follows:
Adelaide: Australia: 21 November 2014
Ha Noi, Viet Nam: 21 November 2015;
Hoi An, Viet Nam: 16 April 2016;
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam: 04 December 2016;
Sa Pa, Viet Nam: 16 June 2018
- Global South