The powers that be, and by that I mean me, have decided that it is time to name another Honorary Roll Model. After much deliberation and combing through numerous candidates who meet the criteria, I have reached a decision as to whom will receive this special title. This phenomenal woman has had her story told by numerous press and media sources, including ABC News, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, Yahoo, and the New York Daily News. She constantly advocates for disabled people and their rights, and she looks damn good doing it. The second Honorary Roll Model is Dr. Danielle Sheypuk.
As you will see, Danielle and I have a lot in common, which may contribute to why I find her so inspiring. She is a 35 year old clinical psychologist living in New York City. She has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and has spent her life in a wheelchair. Her psychology practice focuses on counseling disabled people in the areas of dating, relationships, and sexuality. I can speak from experience that this is a much needed service, since these are complex and confusing topics for everyone, and when you add the complications of having a disability into the mix they become even more difficult to understand. She even provides her counseling via Skype, and if you are interested in her services, you can find out more information on her website. As awesome and commendable as her professional work is, what she has done to improve the image the public has of the disabled is even more impressive.
Danielle is in high demand as a representative and spokeswoman for the disabled. As Ms. Wheelchair New York 2012, she got her first chance to show that you can be disabled and beautiful. She was always interested in fashion, but her foray into the fashion industry really took off at a cerebral palsy luncheon event in 2013. It was at this event, as she was
dressed to kill in some Louboutin booties, that she met well known fashion designer and fast friend Carrie Hammer, who dubbed her “Carrie Bradshaw in a wheelchair.” When Hammer came up with the idea of doing a fashion show using “role models, not runway models,” she immediately thought of Danielle. As a result, during this year’s New York Fashion Week Sheypuk became the first model in a wheelchair to “walk the runway.” Even though she couldn’t strut down the catwalk like the other models, she still commanded the stage. In talking about how she went about modeling for the show, she said, “My wheelchair is just a part of my body – an extension of me – and I’m the main focus, not the chair.” Her modeling career will continue this spring when she is featured in the Raw Beauty Project. This is a collection of images showing the world that you can be disabled and still be beautiful, glamorous, and sexy.
Danielle’s work to show the public that being in a wheelchair and having a body that is different does not mean that you cannot be fashionable, sexy, or attractive is something that will do a lot to alter how people view disabilities. She has said, “Fashion is about dressing the body you have. It’s about knowing what to accentuate.” Danielle has definitely mastered how to do this, and in doing so has finally given young, disabled individuals a Roll Model to follow. I do not know what inspirational and amazing things Danielle will do next, but I do know that she will look good doing it. It is because of all of this that I am proud to announce Danielle Sheypuk as an Honorary Roll Model.