Woman With Spina Bifida Hits Catwalk To Realise Modelling Dreams

A 28-year-old woman with Spina Bifida has said that she won't let her disability stop her from achieving her dreams - having now hit the catwalks to launch her modelling career.

Karneshia Patton, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, is paralysed from the waist down due to her condition, which is a congenital birth defect where the spine and spinal cord don't develop properly.

While Karneshia doesn't think Spina Bifida affects her much day-to-day, she does admit that it has caused problems in the past.

Credit: Barcroft
Credit: Barcroft

She said: "I would say that I was bullied in middle school, maybe 5th or 6th grade.

"There were times growing up when I did resent my wheelchair before I actually came to terms with my disability and accepted who I was.

"But I think that's when we were going through that awkward adolescent phase when kids were kind of cruel and just kind of wanted to be like other kids. I was like - I don't need to be like the other kids."

It was this point that Karneshia started training at the gym, and also took up basketball.

"I have been working out since I was in high school," she explained.

"I actually started lifting myself up with pull-ups and things like that. The most pull-ups I have done is 10."

Now a member of the Lakeshore Foundation's wheelchair basketball team, Karneshia practises twice a week during basketball season.

When on the court, she admits that one of her biggest challenges is blocking her competitor - but outside of the game, she also faces other challenges, referring to her wheelchair as both her 'best friend' and 'worst enemy'.

Karneshia continued: "Sometimes I do get frustrated with thinking about day-to-day tasks and what route I might have to take to get there. How long it might take me to get ready?

"Going to a building that may not be accessible is very frustrating because you have to plan your day accordingly and it really shouldn't be like that.

"I just change the way I think about it when I get discouraged and disheartened. I just deal with the now and if I can't change what happened, just move on from it."

As well as studying for an MBA in business during her evenings, Karneshia works as a nail technician. But now she's also having a stab at her latest passion: modelling.

Not only has she already modelled at a number of events, she's also taken on the catwalk - which she loved.

Credit: Barcroft
Credit: Barcroft

She said: "I got into modelling about two to three years ago when I was asked to do a photo shoot. After that I just kind of fell in love with the world of modelling.

"I went on a couple of fashion show model calls and I just really enjoy the fashion world and being on the runway. I just became engulfed in it.

"The first time I walked down the catwalk, I was very, very nervous. My hands were sweaty, shaking. But once I saw the love I was getting, and the smiles on people's faces, I fell in love with it.

"I would absolutely love to do more modelling in the future."

Karneshia also hopes that her move into fashion will inspire others to overcome their own obstacles and follow their dreams.

She added: "Representation matters to everyone. When you can look on a screen or photo and see somebody that you can relate to, that could encourage someone to go out and pursue their dreams.

"I would say that as far as diversity inclusiveness goes in the disabled community, people are getting better at recognising us, knowing that we are here.

"They see that we are not just at home, not just trying to stay away from the outside world. There are more of us that are getting out there, telling our stories."

Featured Image Credit: Barcroft

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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