Nordstrom’s recent release of their summer campaign includes pages of fashion editorials with models that don’t fit the usual ‘perfect model’ body image. The most well known of the four models was Jillian Mercado, who was featured in the Diesel spring 2014 ad, which shows Mercado seated in her wheelchair. Mercado suffers from spastic muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair since the age of 12.
The other models included Alex Minksy, who is an Armed Forces vet that lost his leg while serving in Afganistan; Emilia Taguchi, who is a 7-year-old with Down syndrome; and Shaholly Ayers, who was born without the lower half of her right arm.
“Identifying companies that utilize models or actresses with disabilities has been like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Meg O’Connell, a partner at the consulting firm Global Disability Inclusion.
O’Connell stated that Nordstrom “is a leader in this space and has been a long-standing supporter of disability inclusion not only in their advertising but also in employment and accessibility in their stores.”
In the catalog, Mercado sits in her wheelchair while modeling boots. Mercado is joined by Alex Minksy, who is modeling Nike running shoes. Many companies, including H&M, Diesel, Duracell and Swiffer have all recently featured models with disablilites.
Nordstrom spokeswoman Tara Darrow said using the models is “really about reflecting the customers and communities we serve. We serve diverse customers and it’s an opportunity for them to see themselves when they’re looking through the book or online. … We don’t promote it or go out and talk about it. We just think they look great.”