People with disabilities often face disadvantages as they navigate a world and society that doesn't always keep them in mind. However, as the world become more and more progressive, the conversation is beginning to change. The multitudes of individuals who would have been outsiders in their community only a few decades ago are gaining acceptance on a global scale and the discussion of their situations is no longer deemed taboo. Activists are breaking ground, but no one is more powerful than an empowered person from the disabled community. Alexandra Kutas, a model with disabilities who uses a wheelchair, is redefining conceptions of beauty and fashion everywhere with her work.
Born Alexandra Kutas in Ukraine, an error made by a doctor during her birth caused spinal injuries that led her to use a wheelchair in her everyday life. Far from being discouraged, however, Kutas chose to pursue a modelling career at sixteen years of age after being discovered by a photographer in a restaurant. After she fell in love with photography, she saw an opportunity to use her image as a vehicle to change people's perceptions. The project was called 'Break Your Chains,' and its purpose was to spread awareness through Alexandra's beauty about the difficulties people with disabilities face, and encourage the empowerment of individuals to push their limits and not allow themselves to be restricted by their situations. By showing that people with disabilities could be seen as conventionally beautiful, Alexandra hoped to go beyond the stereotypes, pity was to be replaced by delight, understanding and compassion.
After her breakthrough, Alexandra gained recognition worldwide and already featured by popular media like the Daily Mail, kickstarting her career. As Ukraine's first face for a new world of equality, she has shown that she is a true professional at her work, not a social project. In addition to the fact that her success breaks down stereotypes regarding how disabled people live and where they belong in society, her work is also reshaping the fashion industry by demonstrating that models come in all shapes and sizes, and that beauty is more than a slender figure strutting down the runway. Her authenticity shines through her portfolio, and her courage is astounding.
After leaving Ukraine behind for New York, where the scene is more liberal and opportunities for models are multitudinous, Alexandra courted professionals at Fashion Week to showcase her talents and set an example for others following their passion. She believes that she can succeed on her own terms, and that the fashion world is finally ready for expressing the reality of the nuanced and complex world that we live in. She made her debut at Ukraine Fashion Week in 2015, and hopes that her work will inspire and contribute to the wellbeing of people like her.
Her other work primarily focuses on raising awareness of the predicaments faced by disabled individuals such as the lack of accessible infrastructure. In her home country, wheelchair ramps are rare, which hinders mobility and integration into society. Together with her American friend, Blake Wind, Alexandra is currently working on a video project to help popularize Universal/Inclusive Design across the world, and is actively seeking more collaborators for it.
In addition, she is a generous soul and volunteered to help wounded Ukrainian soldiers in hospitals who was fighting against Russian attacks in 2014. She hopes to volunteer in more capacities at home and abroad in the near future.
Ultimately, Alexandra Kutas is integral to reforming the fashion industry as well as the world in terms of spreading awareness about disabled people. Her bravery and perseverance will certainly revolutionize the perception of people like her and empower more disabled individuals to follow their passions. In the big picture, she is not just an individual who surmounted unimaginable obstacles; she is a symbol for a future of equality.