Model takes to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit catwalk in a wheelchair, absolutely kills it

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
The model absolutely owned her moment [Photo: Getty]
The model absolutely owned her moment [Photo: Getty]

A model with serious leg injuries took to the catwalk of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit show in a wheelchair and absolutely owned it.

Djaniel Carter, from Arizona, suffered the injuries following years working as a professional dancer, and now suffers from a condition that makes it difficult for her to walk and stand.

But that didn’t stop her from nailing her appearance during Miami Swim Week on Sunday in a move hailed as a positive step forward for diversity.

Having been wheeled down the runway by the publication’s editor, MJ Day, the former dancer briefly stood to strike a quick pose for photographers and attempt a few dance moves before returning to her chair.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shared the inspirational moment in a clip on Instagram, which has since amassed more than 100K views and has been flooded with messages of praise and support.

READ MORE: As Naomi Campbell scores first NARS campaign, is the beauty industry finally becoming more inclusive?

“After several years as a professional dancer, @djaniiel sustained traumatic injuries to both of her legs and has been battling an underlying medical condition that has yet to be diagnosed,” the caption alongside the video read.

“Despite the fact that she has a weakened ability to walk and stand, she has not let that stop her from pursing [sic] her dreams.”

The video showed Djaniel in a red, striped bikini with her legs hanging over the side of the wheelchair, as she was pushed down the catwalk, waving her arms in the air and seeming to relish every moment.

At the end of the catwalk she stood to pose before briefly dancing to Destiny’s Child ‘Independent woman’.

The model absolutely owned her moment [Photo: Getty]
The model absolutely owned her moment [Photo: Getty]

Images and videos from the event also showed that Djaniel took to the catwalk a second time, this time showcasing a white, cut-out, one-piece.

Users were quick to take to the comments section to thank both the magazine and Djaniel for the positive move.

“Omg.... This just made me cry because I relate to it so deeply,” one fan wrote. “I was a professional dancer as well and now am injured in both of my knees so I am unable to do what I used to.

“I haven't let it stop me, and I am still able to walk.. but I relate to the pain behind this so deeply and love this girl for this. Rock on sister.”

“This is amazing and beyond inspiring,” another fan wrote. “Thank you @si_swimsuit and @mj_day for constantly giving that runway the gift of diversity and all of us the empowerment to embrace our unique.”

Others thanked the model for throwing a light on invisible illness.

“From one chronic pain sufferer to another, what you showed on that stage honestly made me cry, to see somebody with an invisible illness share exactly what it looks like at times, I feel brought awareness to a HUGE part of living with invisible illnesses. Thank you,” one user commented.

Djaniel suffers from a condition that makes it difficult to move and walk but was able to briefly stand at the end of the runway [Photo: Getty]
Djaniel suffers from a condition that makes it difficult to move and walk but was able to briefly stand at the end of the runway [Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: New Barbie range features dolls in wheelchairs and with prosthetic limbs

Despite the overwhelming support, a small number of people also left negative comments, accusing the move of being insulting to disabled people because Djaniel was able to stand at the end of the runway.

But Djaniel was quick to fire back at the critics, pointing out that disability comes in many different guises.

“I already got called a “FRAUD” I am going to open up about my story and about what my body goes through you don’t know me,” she wrote on Instagram.

Fashion brands have been making strides to make catwalks more inclusive of late.

Back in 2017 design duo Teatum Jones cast one of the UK’s leading disabled models, Kelly Knox, for their show.

While Alton Towers crash victim Vicky Balch also walked, wearing a moss green dress and revealing her prosthetic leg.

Earlier this year an eight year old double amputee cartwheeled down the runway at LondonKids’ Fashion week.

Child model Daisy Demetre, from Birmingham, was born with fibula hemimelia, a bone condition which cause her to be born with parts of both her legs missing.

But she proved her disability would not hold her back as walked in her third show for children’s clothing brand Panda London.

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