One woman with Spina Bifida says that her dream of starting her modeling career will not be deterred by her disability.
Birmingham, Alabama’s Karneshia Patton, 28, is paralyzed from the waist down. Spina Bifida is a congenital birth defect where both the spine and spinal cord do not develop the correct way.
Patton shared how though the disability has affected her life, she does not think of her condition on the daily.
“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.”
Patton also went on to share how she started to train at the gym and even started playing basketball.
“I have been working out since I was in high school,” she said. “I actually started lifting myself up with pull-ups and things like that. The most pull-ups I have done is 10.”
Patton now practices twice a week during basketball season and is a member of the Lakeshore Foundation’s wheelchair basketball team.
Patton says that one of the biggest obstacles she faces when she is on the court is blocking her competitor but when she is not on the court, her other obstacle is addressing her wheelchair as both her ‘best friend’ and ‘worst enemy’.
Karneshia continued, saying:
“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.”
Patton, along with studying in the evenings for an MBA in business, also works as a nail technician.
But as of late, it’s modeling that has grabbed her attention.
And Patton even has the experience to back at up, with already having modeled at a handful of events as well as hit the catwalk.
“I got into modeling 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 modeling. 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 modeling in the future.”
Patton is hopeful that her transition into the modeling world will inspire hope in others to tackle their own roadblocks and do what they have always dreamed of doing.
She continued, saying:
“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 recognizing 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.”
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