Kylie Jenner posing in a wheelchair for Interview Magazine for a photo shoot. (Steven Klein/Interview)
Kylie Jenner is best known for her part on her family reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kylie has been coming into her own as she reached the age of 18 and is taking on the fashion industry with a clothing line and lip kit. While her fashion sense is often praised, a recent photo shoot of her in a wheelchair is receiving harsh criticism from the disabled community and beyond.
The Interview magazine photo shoot was with photographer Steven Klein. Kylie is dressed like a retro sex doll, wearing shiny black latex similar to lingerie. Jenner is propped up in a gold and black wheelchair posing like a dominatrix. Not only did Jenner agree to the pose, but the team involved in the photo shoot must have approved this ahead of time. It’s nearly impossible to think a gold colored wheelchair was just lying around in the hallway of the photo shoot location and the pose happened due to spur of the moment actions. This was definitely planned out and a lot of effort went into capturing the photo.
Jenner is taking the heat for the photograph, although there were plenty of team members to blame as well. The comment she shared on social media, “Wow, being in a wheelchair is so fun and fashionable” only fueled the fire within the disabled community. Those within the community would have preferred an apology instead of her unrealistic view of a wheelchair being fashionable.
It shows how out of touch Jenner is with reality. She is a young teen who is so uncomfortable with her own physical body that her insecurities have led her to undergo transformations that alter her appearance, such as lip fillers. It makes many wonder where her state of mind was when she agreed to pose in the wheelchair.
The disabled community was outraged that a wheelchair was used as a fashionable prop to create an edgy, sexy look. Once the photograph was released to the public and Jenner posted her comment on social media, the harsh criticism came rushing in quickly. Heated comments were coming from a place of anger in the community.
The most shared social media post came from Ophelia Brown, a 17-year old wheelchair user from Ottawa, Canada. Her clever post has a picture of herself next to Jenner with the comment “@kyliejenner wow being in a wheelchair is so fun and fashionable! #Ableism is the ultimate fashion statement!” Brown later told BBC Trending, she wanted to show Kylie that being in a wheelchair is not glamorous, fashionable or fun.
Brown, who uses her wheelchair due to complex regional pain syndrome, expressed more of her feelings from her home in Ottawa. Brown stated she felt like Jenner didn’t fully understand what it’s like to be in a wheelchair. The wheelchair is a large part of Brown’s life and she was outraged about Jenner being able to sit on it for fun or to look more cool and edgy. She felt an overwhelming jealousy and annoyance that Jenner was able to get in and out of the wheelchair for fun when Brown is confined to the wheelchair long term.
While Brown’s social media post was the most shared on social media, the comments were not always in favor of her view on the Jenner situation. There were mixed comments ranging from supportive to cruel. One of the worst comments addressed to Brown said that she was just jealous and she should roll herself into a wall.
Disability advocates are speaking out. Emily Smith Beitiks, associate director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability in San Francisco, told CNN: “It’s deeply disturbing. People with disabilities are already seen as powerless, and this just reinforces that.” The only positive part of this situation is the fact it brought awareness to how society views the disabled community. Most-likely this conversation will continue for years to come until views are changed.