Fashion & Disability an Open Letter

Fashion & Disability an Open Letter

In 2018, it is not enough to have simply survived life’s obstacles – or even to thrive despite them. For me, as a paraplegic model, ambassador, parathlete, wife, and woman, to live my best life is to embrace my challenges.

Everyday, I accept myself. My legs, though at times I dislike them, are mine; though I don’t see them represented or reflected in the magazines and stores I browse in, they are here to stay. I’ve learned to love my body for all that it is. But still in 2018, and despite great progress towards diversity, it feels that there is much to be done to convince fashion to respect bodies like mine.

There are people like me all over the world growing up without any reference to their part or place in society; without seeing others, like themselves, living a full and fulfilling life. Still, it is as though having a disability is to be invisible – to have the full spectrum of who you are and who you could potentially become, ignored.

Beyond navigating the stigma, misconceptions, prejudice and doubts about what I, as a disabled person can achieve, I am working passionately to make sure that I see myself represented

samanta bullock wheelchair model abled body young
Before my accident – Samanta Bullock 1992

in my industry. I challenge myself to work fearlessly in fashion, so that others like me feel confident that they can not just survive their own obstacles, but thrive and embrace them too.

I want to make the industry I’ve worked in for 30 years, more inclusive. My drive comes from my experience growing up, working as a model in Brazil; having my accident and then feeling like my dreams had been taken away from me. This stage in my life lead me to the next – to becoming number one tennis champion in Brazil; to being signed to a modelling agency, representing top brands like the BBC and Toyota; and to featuring on the runways at London Fashion Week. Now, I’m channelling my passions towards making a difference – towards an industry that embraces and celebrates disabled bodies.

I want the next generation of disabled children and adults to see people just like them, working in all aspects of the fashion industry. I want to see disabled designers, stylists, makeup artists and photographers involved in major brands and fashion shows. In fashion’s future, there’s a place for blind and partially sighted people, deaf people, people in wheelchairs, people with learning disabilities – disabled people who have all sorts of abilities.

designer louise linderoth wheelchair model samanta bullock
Picture by Pavzo with Louise Linderoth at London Scouts LFW

I would like to work with all stakeholders in the industry to make fashion reflect society more accurately, and to create an environment wherein everybody feels welcome. In 2018, yes we have the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, River Island and ASOS to admire for their work towards this change; we have models like Kelly Knox and Madeline Stuart to inspire a new generation of models. But in 2018 I would like to see the leadership of these brands and power of these people’s stories motivating the entire fashion industry.


In 2018 it is not enough to leave the weight of inclusion on the shoulders of a few key players. Inclusion is about surviving and thriving together, embracing each other. Inclusion is about everybody – including you.


Channel 4 Behind the Scars.

Channel 4 Behind the Scars.

Hi guys,

samanta bullock disabled model project wheelchair behind scars channel 4
Samanta Bullock portrayed by Sophie Mayanne

The ‘Behind the Scars’ project continues to grow.  There will soon be a photo shoot in New York. In London, I gave an interview for Channel 4 and I would love to share with you some of the stories and behind the scenes action. The photographer Sophie Mayanne does not alter the photos in post-production.

It was great to be involved in this initiative alongside Kelly Jackson, Deborah James and Michele Elman all of whom appear in the video. Kelly sums up her feelings by saying  ‘I just want to show other people that it is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by.’

As Michele said ‘I would love to see a scarred princess,’ as scars are normally associated with villains.  Thanks to Sophie  for such an exciting initiative…’scarred not scared.’

You can follow all of us on Instagram: Deborah James (@bowelbabe), Michele Elman (@scarrednotscared), Kelly Jackson (@kellys_smile), Sophie Mayanne (@sophiemayanne & @behindthescars_) & Samanta Bullock (@samabullock).

If you had a scar would you consider to take pictures like these?

Best wishes

Sam x

How to Improve your Posture 

How to Improve your Posture 

Unfortunately, being in a wheelchair for an extensive period of time can cause its fair share of problems. One that has a huge impact on your body as time progresses is posture issues. Now, even though I used to frequently do ballet dancing and modelling before my accident, both of which require an almost perfect posture; I still need to remain vigilante on any unnatural curves in my spine.

Throughout my 25 years being in a wheelchair, I’ve picked up some excellent tips on how to maintain a healthy posture. Some of them are quite simple, and others require you to increase your heart rate a little. So, here they are…

Use an exercise ball

samanta bullock wheelchair ball back model gym exercise
Stretch with a Ball


This is one that I’ve used for a very long time, and I’d like to say it’s helped an awful lot. It isn’t too demanding on your body, and it takes just 5 or 10 minutes a day. Simply get an exercise ball, place it on the floor and lie down on it, with the ball positioned in the middle of your back. As you’re on the ball, you can roll up and down it to hit different parts of your back, and this should help iron out any imbalances.


Get your wheelchair fitted correctly

It sounds obvious, but this one is very important. Considering you’re going to be in your wheelchair 99% of the time, it needs to be comfortable. The back support needs to match the curvature of your spine so you’re in a natural position and you need to have enough leg support. Without these, you’ll be at risk of getting posture issues because you’ll be too far back, too far forward, or too cramped up.

Do some yoga

Yoga is a brilliant way for everyone to keep their muscles, joints and spine healthy. But, the reason why I love it so much is because you can literally do it anywhere and still receive the benefits. Most of the time, I either do yoga with a theraband at home or at the local park.

Go to the gym

samanta bullock wheelchair model gym exercise
Back Exercise

I strongly advise going to the gym. Not only will it keep you fit and healthy, but you’ll also be able to complete exercises that are beneficial to your core. After all, a robust core is essential to maintaining a great posture. So, exercises that you should utilize if you are aiming to improve your posture would be, weighted back exercises, ab exercises and various stretches. You don’t need to go every day, but try to make it a regular occurrence.

Choose a better sleeping position

It may sound strange, but I actually choose a sleeping position that isn’t as comfortable as others but allows me to fully stretch out. This position is sleeping on your stomach. It enables your spine to be fully elongated, and therefore keep your posture intact.

Extra tip: Stay in tune with your body, and notice when it isn’t feeling right or your posture isn’t straight. Then, make sure you keep correcting it to prevent any long-term damage.

Here is the Video where I explain everything:





5 Items to Wear on your Legs

5 Items to Wear on your Legs

Hi guys
wheelchair user skirt. samanta bullock model
Long Skirt

In this youtube video, I give 5 tips on what to wear on your legs.  I explore what is comfortable, practical for my active and adventurous lifestyle and fashionable. I give some insight into the colours that I like at the moment, look at how one item can be used for a variety of looks, and give some ideas for wheelchair users in choosing clothes to wear as not all traditional clothes designs are ideal.

I focus on the practicality of clothes for travel and an active lifestyle so I go for clothes that do not crease and do not need to be ironed when I arrive at a destination.  It means I can look good with minimal effort.

Wheelchair user samanta bullock dress pink disabled
Pink summery dress.


Take a look at the video in the link below, let me know what you think and give me feedback on the type of information you would like to see in future videos. I look forward to hearing from you. I hope that you enjoy it.

Best wishes