Nordstrom Includes Models with Disabilities in the Anniversary Catalog

While we are in the middle of Nordstrom’s biggest Anniversary Sale yet, the retailer is doing much more than tremendously slashing prices to win its customers over. In their July catalog, which previews the popular sale, you’ll notice a few spreads featuring models with disabilities. According to Associated Press, Nordstrom has been including models with disabilities in their ad campaigns since 1997, making them an industry leader for broadening the definition of beauty.

Nordstrom Includes Models with Disabilities in the Anniversary Catalog

The catalog features:

  • Jillian Mercado, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair
  • Alex Minsky, who has a prosthetic leg, having lost his while serving in Afghanistan
  • Shaholly Ayers, whose arm ends below her elbow
  • and 7-year old Heather Taguchi, who has down syndrome

Nordstrom Includes Models with Disabilities in the Anniversary Catalog

The spread is reminiscent of the Debenham’s High Summer Look Book, which featured two models with disabilities and many others of various body types, races and ages.

Nordstrom Includes Models with Disabilities in the Anniversary Catalog

Meg O’Connell from the Global Disability Inclusion consulting firm told AP that companies will gain an advantage once they start to understand that people with disabilities make up a significant chunk of consumers. I constantly make this claim when speaking about retailers who have such a limited selection of plus-sized clothing. Don’t they get that our country is made up of so many different people? Exclusivity is out.

Nordstrom Includes Models with Disabilities in the Anniversary Catalog

These types of editorial spreads are extremely important in terms of expanding (or demolishing) the traditional standard of beauty. I applaud Nordstrom for being a front-runner in the fashion industry, but that catalog was missing something…

It took 70 pages (out of the total 88) into the catalog to find a model with dark skin. We still don’t see any variation with body shapes. Perhaps Nordstrom can continue their progressive marketing strategies to widen even further the representations of beauty and fashion they deliver to a wealth of consumers.

I think a lot of companies are afraid to jump in head first when it comes to inclusive advertising. With its already honorable reputation, Nordstrom has the platform and consumer base to be able to really start making a change. Kudos to them, now let’s keep moving forward!



  1. I love this so much… Good job Nordstrom. It’s so nice to see that companies are changing up their insight.

  2. Yes to true people, ditch the stereotype stick-thin or photoshopped models. Good job Nordies!

  3. I agree, I wish beauty catalogs were more diverse and Nordstrom definitely has the reputation to become the trendsetter. Now let’s hope they actually man up and do it!

  4. I agree this is a great step forward! Thank you for sharing this with us, I always appreciate your posts like this!

  5. Great job, Nordies … maybe next time they’ll include darker skinned individuals earlier on!

  6. Love this post! Thank you for sharing your insight and I applaud Nordstrom for a step in the right direction.

  7. What a great post! Always room for improvement, but I’m glad to see a major retailer taking strides to include more diversity. After all, we all like to see someone that represents us using the products we want to buy.

  8. YES. “exclusivity is out.” I couldn’t agree with you more! Though it is a shame that it’s been done in such a limited way, so far.

  9. I do applaud Nordstrom for doing this since 1997. I certainly hope all retailers follow sooner rather than later.

  10. I saw the ad with the woman in the wheelchair and I was blown away. Great first step, Nordstrom!

  11. I totally never noticed that anyone in there had any disabilities. A super good start for sure, but I agree 70 pages to find someone of color or even someone not the tall and thin look is pretty sad.

  12. It’s a good start. Hopefully they become even more diverse, and this isn’t a one time thing for attention

  13. They’re going in a good direction, but the 70 pages to find someone of color is a bit ridiculous. If you look at weekly ads from places like Target, they usually show a wide variety of nationalities. However, the girl in the wheelchair is looking pretty badass, if I may.

    1. She certainly is! I’ve read articles about women of color in the modeling industry and unfortunately, while a lot of agencies do want diversity, the models who are getting work are more of the “light skinned” ladies whose nationality can be flexible. While they are beautiful, there are so many other beautiful women being left unrepresented!

  14. I’m so glad to see them including so many different kinds of people, but 70 pages to find a person with dark skin? Come on! You are so spot on that there are so many different kinds of people in various sizes & shapes – all of them beautiful. Let’s celebrate that!

    1. *wipes the sweat off my brow* I’m glad to hear people agree with me. I hate to be the “yeah but…” girl when they ARE doing something great for the industry. I just hope they can continue to expand on the idea of inclusiveness!

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