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Nordstrom Spotlights Models With Disabilities


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Alex Minsky lost his right leg after his patrol vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while he was serving in Afghanistan. (Nordstrom)

Alex Minsky lost his right leg after his patrol vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while he was serving in Afghanistan. (Nordstrom)

To hype its trendiest looks for fall, Nordstrom is turning to models with various disabilities clad in everything from designer boots to kids’ fashions.

Emilia Taguchi has Down syndrome and will also appear in a children's catalog for Nordstrom in August. (Nordstrom)

Emilia Taguchi has Down syndrome and will also appear in a children’s catalog for Nordstrom in August. (Nordstrom)

Four people with disabilities grace the pages of the upscale department store’s current anniversary sale catalog promoting the retailer’s biggest sale of the year.

Among those pictured in the 88-page book are 7-year-old Emilia Taguchi, who has Down syndrome, and Jillian Mercado who models boots while seated in her wheelchair. Alex Minsky, a veteran with a prosthetic leg, is featured sporting Nike running shoes and Shaholly Ayers, who was born without her right arm below the elbow, spotlights a Dooney & Bourke bag.

For the retailer, inclusion is simply good business, said Tara Darrow, a Nordstrom spokeswoman who indicated the company has used models with disabilities since 1997.

“For us, it’s really about reflecting the diverse customers and communities we serve. We hope when our customers receive the catalog, they see themselves in it,” Darrow said.

Gail Williamson of Down Syndrome in Arts & Media represents Taguchi and helped the Southern California girl land the Nordstrom photo shoot. In nearly two decades representing models and actors with disabilities, she said the number of requests for such talent has increased, but not quick enough.

“The media is the fastest way to get information to the public,” said Williamson who credited other retailers including Target, JC Penney, Toys “R” Us and Macy’s who have also featured models with disabilities in their advertising.

“Seeing images of people who are different than those in the community you live in helps prepare all of us to practice full inclusion everywhere,” she said.

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Comments (8 Responses)

  1. Sara J. says:


  2. Michelle welcher says:

    I have an autistic son who is age 14 soon will be 15 on July 30 it really would be nice if they also included having commercials featuring autistic children none exist now. Wmarche’ would love to do something like this it would boost his morale and social skisocial skills. This can also be included in the commercials on mickey mouse club house this is all he watches. We love in Chicago and he will be attendin chicago agriculture high school in the fall.

  3. AspieMom says:


    Too many people spend their lives not seeing folks with disabilities. This helps them see that we’re all just folks!

  4. vmgillen says:

    Hey, what does an “autistic” kid look like???? One of the challenges I face, and others have discussed, is getting people to understand there is a disability involved, not just brattiness or bad parenting. On the other hand, my daughter (Down’s Syndrome) often was not challenged (i.e. “they can never learn to read”) because she was “clearly disabled.”

  5. Helen says:

    Michelle, how do you know if they have autism or not? One of the disabilities that doesn’t have visible markings.

  6. cynthia n says:

    I will shop at any store that employs or features individuals with disabilities! This is smart business as it supports our ideals that we are all part of the community. It gives people who do not know someone with special needs the chance to interact and see first hand what skills invididuals with special needs possess and how accommodations can be made when needed. Perhaps Mr. Rodgers neighborhood where all are welcome and respected is finally becoming a reality. Whoo hoo!

  7. Karen Mevis says:

    This is awesome. I applaud Nordstrom! I will make a point of shopping there, and hope to see more inclusive decisions and marketing in the future.

  8. Tom Williams says:

    People with Disabilities are the same as everyone else, KUDOS to Nordstom for figuring that out. More of our large companies in the US need to see People with Disabilities as the same as everyone else. They love to work, have fun and have the same needs and wants as all of us. Our large and small companies need to see that and help employ them. They won’t get a better worker who is on time and loves to do there job.Thanks to all those companies who employ them.

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