Cerrie Burnell: Making it as a model is nearly impossible

Comment

Share
Related Topics

For disabled people, the acting industry and the modelling world are very closely linked and remain incredibly hard to break into.

Personally I've never worn a prosthetic arm, because it's only when I attach one to myself that I become disabled. They are uncomfortable and bulky and simply an aesthetic attachment that makes me look like everybody else – and that is something I've consciously decided I'm not going to buy into.

I began as an actor. There are days when every actor – able-bodied or not – gets depressed about the lack of work opportunities, but for disabled people these industries are particularly tough. You simply don't get called to many castings. The industries have a very closed mentality over what they want their models to look like; a very strict definition of what constitutes beauty.

I was lucky to fall in with a fantastic group of disabled actors early on in my career who had already spent many years fighting prejudice, and they explained to me how I could get on.

But for disabled people who want to become models, things are even tougher. The fashion industry is very fast, very unforgiving and it doesn't care about your feelings. Every day women are surrounded by a plastic surgeon's view of what constitutes the body beautiful. In magazines, fashion shows, on television and in films we're constantly bombarded with what a woman's body should look like and it's an image that is hard enough to match up to when you are an able-bodied woman, let alone someone who is disabled.

In terms of a disabled person trying to make it in the fashion world it's virtually impossible.

How often do you see a magazine cover with a disabled person on it? The only time would be to accompany a piece about their disability. You'd never see a picture of a disabled model simply because the magazine editor or client decided they wanted her in there regardless of her disability.

When I heard earlier this week that a small number of people had complained about me being on television it didn't really surprise me, and it certainly didn't hurt. I knew those people weren't complaining about me personally – they were simply reacting to the fact that we hardly ever see a disabled person on our television screens.

It simply reinforced what all disabled people know: discrimination still exists in so many forms. In many ways I'm glad the whole thing erupted, because it made the rest of the world aware of the kind of shit that disabled people have to deal with all the time.



Cerrie Burnell is a CBeebies presenter

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russell Brand joins residents and supporters from the New Era housing estate in East London as they deliver a petition to 10 Downing Street  

With Russell Brand and the public on our side, this is how I helped my family and countless others from being evicted this Christmas

Lindsey Garrett
Members of the House of Lords gather for the state opening of Parliament  

Peer pressure: The nobles in the Lords should know when to go

Jane Merrick
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick