Nearly 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome every year in the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. government health figures, yet people will the condition are rarely represented in the mainstream fashion industry. But thankfully, The Radical Beauty Project is trying to change that by creating a platform for people with Down syndrome to be regularly featured in independent fashion shoots and, according to Radical Beauty's site, "provide an alternative vision for beauty" by publishing a photo series that stars people with Down syndrome. Initially launched in 2016, the photo series was an offshoot of the Culture Device Dance Project, a U.K.-based contemporary dance company for professional dancers with Down syndrome.
Drag as an art form is a global phenomenon and worldwide industry. Queens are now celebrities, with shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race beamed into households across the world. But people with learning disabilities have remained largely shut out of the world of drag. Drag Syndrome—a new drag show featuring drag queens and kings, all of whom have Down’s syndrome—looks to change that.
In 2012, Jane Fonda gave a Ted Talk about “life’s third act” – the last three decades of life which she described, “age not as pathology, but as potential”. Artist Matthew Morrocco has explored “life’s third act,” in his first photography book, Complicit, published by MATTE editions. The images chronicle Morrocco’s time spent photographing himself with older, gay men in New York City from 2010 to 2015.
The Afropunk Festival is more than a two-day festival; it’s a global movement. It’s a celebration of Black culture and a safe space for self-expression and activism through skate, music, film and art. The manifesto is “No sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness.” Cofounder Matthew Morgan’s stated, “Afropunk is for open-minded, forward-thinking, progressive people. We are not a genre of music — we’re a state of mind. If you’re gonna do something that has an impact, it’s important for us to be involved in something that helps to spark a dialogue that’s felt globally.”
Amanda Lepore’s childhood was far from the glitz and glamour that surrounds her today. Growing up, Amanda was bullied for being different from all her peers because although she was born a boy, her internal identity was female.
In her teens, Amanda started taking hormone therapy and underwent gender reassignment surgery that was paid for by her boyfriend’s father. She fled New Jersey and became a fixture on the New York City club scene in the early ’90s with the likes of Kabuki Starshine, Richie Rich, and Michael Alig (whose rise and fall was made into the feature film Party Monster). After meeting photographer David LaChapelle, Amanda Lepore became his muse, appearing in his cheeky, colorful photographs including the Amanda as Marilyn and Amanda as Andy Warhol’s Liz Taylor in his After Pop series.
Three years before the #MeToo movement went viral, New York–based performance artist Emma Sulkowicz became famous for the 2015 performance piece Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), in which Sulkowicz carried a 50-pound dorm mattress around Columbia University’s campus for nine months to protest the university’s lack of action against an alleged rapist.