Sophia Malthus says everyone has the right to express themselves through fashion, able-bodied or not.
The 22-year-old tetraplegic has not let her wheelchair stop her from strutting her stuff on the catwalk and hopes to pave the way for others who may not fit the traditional model mold.
The former Nelson College for Girls student was left paralysed after a horse-riding accident in 2016. Sophia suffered a C5 spinal cord injury leaving her with minimal movement below the neck.
But the incident hasn’t stopped her from breaking down barriers, as she recently modelled at New Zealand Fashion Week.
Sophia describes her appearance as a symbol of progression.
“There were so many different models, disabilities, races sizes, there’s no reason you can’t be a model now.”
Sophia says she never intended to enter the world of fashion.
“My friend, who has cerebral palsy, decided to start a fashion platform where the detailing of clothes is tailored for those with disabilities and where people with special needs can purchase them.”
She says a lot of people in wheelchairs think they can’t be models so she hopes they look at her and realise they can be.
“I have never wanted to be a model but if it’s something that I can do to help progress things for people with disabilities then it’s nice to know that you’re helping people.”
Sophia describes the experience as the crews installed ramps to help her to and from the catwalk.
“It was so nice because everyone involved wanted to learn how they can make the show accessible for me.”
She says, while ‘the whole modelling thing’ is not really what she cares about, if it helps empower others, she will continue to do it.
“People with disabilities should be able to express themselves in a way everyone else can.”