Meet Rachelle Friedman Chapman, a young mum who was paralysed at her bachelorette party five years ago.
And prepare to be inspired.
Hers is a sad tale which will have anybody feeling empathetic. But Rachelle wants to send a powerful – and positive – message.
By taking part in a lingerie photo shoot, Rachelle hopes to break through stereotypes and silence body shamers, to prove that having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy.
She made headlines with the news of her accident, after a friend pushed her into a swimming pool as a hen party joke and it took an unforeseen and tragic turn.
Rachelle doesn’t want to be defined by her accident, and doesn’t want others to be either.
Since 2010, which is when the event took place, Rachelle has become a prominent disability awareness advocate and uses social media to further spread her messages about disability.
Speaking with Buzzfeed, she explains: “When the injury happened it took a blow to my self-confidence and to my sexuality,” she said. “I identify with that part of myself and I felt like it was gone. I couldn’t control how my body looks and I couldn’t control the fact that I had to wear a catheter. After five years…I am OK with myself and I’m learning to love myself.”
And she has an important message for others who may feel the same way about their body: “People who are in my situation, especially young people who have sustained a life-altering injury, it can feel very lonely,” she said. “I wanted to show other people in my situation that they aren’t alone and that they can still be beautiful.”
Rachelle has sparked the hashtag #whatmakesmesexy in the hope that others will feel inspired to see themselves a little differently.
For those ‘haters’ that have spread any negativity surrounding the photos, she has another bold statement to make: “The people who don’t like the photos are not going to remember these but the people that it positively impacted will remember this for a long time.
“If one person feels better about themselves and their situation because of what I’ve put out there then it’s 100% worth it.”
We applaud you, Rachelle.
By Laura Jane Turner
Pictures: Twitter @FollowRachelle / Revolution Studios