Rebekah entered the modelling industry back in 2011 and despite being born without a right forearm and having faced rejection on numerous occasions before her career took off, she continued to chase her dreams. After a friend suggested that she use her myoelectric prosthesis as a fashion “accessory,” it was at that moment that Rebekah realised that she could use her disability to her advantage. Since then she has empowered and inspired others as well as push past boundaries of the mainstream fashion industry. She has modelled for acclaimed designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, walked at New York Fashion Week, featured in a number of reputable publications and has given a motivational talk at the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders event.
Image Credit: Chris Loupos Pictures
It’s both incredibly inspiring and fearless that you’ve not let your disability get in the way of your career and that you’re utilising it as a way to help others, what gave you the courage?
By no means was modelling an easy journey, but I’m quite proud of where I am now. Ironically, I used a lot of the fear and insecurities I had growing up as a catalyst to living a happy and fulfilling life. It all started with putting myself in front of the camera— the one thing I feared most. I hated people seeing my arm and I knew modelling was not only something I enjoyed when I was younger, but it also challenged me to face my fears. Fear ultimately gave me the strength and courage to build my career. I hope by doing this, I am inspiring those to do the same.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face since you became a model?
Interestingly enough, my biggest challenge in recent years has been my height, not so much my arm. I’m quite petite, and most agencies won’t even look at my work due to my stature. It gets frustrating, but I believe this is just another barrier I will have to push through. I spent the past 8 years proving my worthiness as a model with a disability, and now I’m going to challenge the way the industry treats petite models. The industry can’t continue to brag about diversity when they’re truly not embracing what it means to be diverse.
Image Credit: Shay Nartker
Do you feel that the industry has become more diverse and more inclusive since you began?
I sincerely believe we’ve come a long way since I started this journey. Growing up, I just didn’t see people like me in fashion, and it’s great to see so many different men and women being represented by so many brands now. Brands like Aerie, Target, Dove, Chromat and Tommy Hilfiger are just a few who have taken the more inclusive route. I love watching the industry grow and become more diverse; however, I still think we still have some room to grow. As I previously said, my height has been somewhat of a challenge in the industry, and I’d like to see that change over time, too.
You’re also a brand ambassador for the Lucky Fin Project, tell us a little about that and the work you do.
The Lucky Fin Project is a non-profit organization that aims to support people with limb differences. A few years ago, I came across the LFP and knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of. Shortly after writing the non-profit, Molly Stapelman, founder of the Lucky Fin Project, invited me to become an ambassador. I actually just got back from their annual picnic where we all come together and celebrate our limb differences. I got to meet new faces, sign autographs and take pictures with everyone. It’s truly a blessing to be a role model to these kids. I never knew anyone like me growing up, so I’m grateful I can help be someone they look up to for guidance.
Lucky Fin Project Weekend
What do you think makes a woman fabulous and fearless?
I think a woman’s unapologetic confidence is truly what makes them fabulous and fearless. Embrace the stretch marks, the cellulite, and the freckles— because these are all things that make us so irreplaceable. Although letting go of your insecurities may feel like it’s outside of your comfort zone, I’ve learned that embracing them can be life changing. In fact, I wish I had done this for myself sooner. I might have enjoyed life as a high school student if I didn’t spend my time beating myself up over my differences. It’s important to appreciate them and celebrate your uniqueness.
Lucky Fin Project Weekend
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
One of the best pieces of advice I got was from my friend Noah Galloway, who you may have seen on “Dancing with the Stars” a couple years ago. Being on such a popular TV show, Noah dealt with a lot of online press—most of it being positive, of course. Part of becoming a public figure is learning to deal with the not-so-friendly comments. I struggled a lot with that. When my story made the rounds on the web, I would read the comments and often found myself biting my tongue not to intervene or correct someone. Other comments had me questioning why I’m even putting myself out there to begin with. Noah so graciously gave me some of the best advice I’ve been given: “Don’t read the comments.” As simple as it sounds, staying away from the negativity has kept me focused on my journey and to keep inspiring generations to come.
In a society that’s obsessed with ‘perfection’, what message would you give to those struggling with self-confidence?
We have to recognize the term “perfection” is simply a fallacy, and that it’s an expression we should understand to be fictitious. The media has done a great job of manipulating the way we think about ourselves, and it’s terrifying to see the way we ultimately treat ourselves due to the rigorous standards of “perfection.” Years ago, having freckles made you imperfect, and so women spent millions on creams to erase them. Today, the industry is embracing them as a beautiful feature. The idea of perfection is constantly changing because it simply doesn’t exist. The moment you stop obsessing over your flaws is the moment you can start living.
Image Credit: Stevie Chris
What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
I hope to write a book in the next 5 years. It’s always been a dream of mine, but time has gotten away from me. I hope to settle down over the next few years and focus more on writing. I truly believe my purpose in life goes beyond just a pretty face in a magazine or runway. It’s important I take my life lessons through my journey as a model and share my stories about overcoming insecurities and embracing self-love. I yearn to leave a legacy for years to come.
How’s that for inspirational? We love sharing the stories from fabulous and fearless women like Rebekah’s on the blog and we hope you’re enjoying it to! Have a read of our other interviews here.
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