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‘Raw Beauty Project’ celebrates women with disabilities

Wendy Crawford, photographed by Walter Chin. Crawford, the co-creator of the Raw Beauty Project NYC, was hurt in a car accident at age 19.Walter Chin Wendy Crawford, photographed by Walter Chin. Crawford, the co-creator of the Raw Beauty Project NYC, was hurt in a car accident at age 19.

Wendy Crawford was an up-and-coming model when she was hit by a drunk driver. The life-changing accident left the then-19-year-old paralyzed and bound to a wheelchair.

More than 30 years later, Crawford, 49, appeared in front of the camera again. This time, she was doing it to help other women with disabilities feel confident while encouraging others to expand their idea of what it means to be beautiful as part of The Raw Beauty Project NYC.

“When you have a devastating injury or disability, you’re not often thought of as sensual or pretty because you don’t look like the women in the magazines,” she explained to the Daily News. “We want to challenge that unrealistic standard and say that beauty is in confidence, strength and uniqueness and that it can come in every shape, color, size and age.”

Crawford, the founder of mobileWOMEN.org, is one of the 20 disabled women who were photographed for the project.

Andrea Dalzell, photographed by Paula Vasone. Dalzell is in a wheelchair because of transverse myelitis. Paula Vasone

Andrea Dalzell, photographed by Paula Vasone. Dalzell is in a wheelchair because of transverse myelitis.

Enlarge Katherine Crawford, photographed by Daryl Henderson. Crawford was injured while in the military. Daryl Henderson

Katherine Crawford, photographed by Daryl Henderson. Crawford was injured while in the military.

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She is also a co-creator who has been involved with Raw Beauty since its first incarnation, “Uncensored Life: Raw Beauty,” premiered in Miami in 2006.

In 2014, mobileWOMEN.org and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation joined forces for The Raw Beauty Project NYC.

The photography exhibit aims to “inspire the public to create new perceptions, transform stereotypes and breakthrough personal obstacles by expanding awareness of women with physical challenges,” according to its website.

Andrea Dalzell photographed by Paula Vasone. Dalzell decided to keep dancing after breaking her back.Paula Vasone Andrea Dalzell photographed by Paula Vasone. Dalzell decided to keep dancing after breaking her back. Aimee Hoffman photographed by Alex Barberio. Hoffman became a paraplegic at age 30 due to Transverse Myelitis.Alex Barberio Aimee Hoffman photographed by Alex Barberio. Hoffman became a paraplegic at age 30 due to Transverse Myelitis. Sara Tabor photographed by Jeremy Sailing. Tabor became a paraplegic after a fall at age 28. She now plays sled hockey with two New York teams and mentors younger players.Jeremy Sailing Sara Tabor photographed by Jeremy Sailing. Tabor became a paraplegic after a fall at age 28. She now plays sled hockey with two New York teams and mentors younger players. Cheryl Price photographed by Carolina Del Rivero. Price suffered a spinal cord injury at birth.Carolina Del Rivero Cheryl Price photographed by Carolina Del Rivero. Price suffered a spinal cord injury at birth.
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The stunning photographs, which were snapped by professionals, are paired with each woman’s story. Some are polio survivors or have Cerebral Palsy, while others were injured in an accident or became an amputee because of cancer.

Models included Cheryl Price, a mother of one who suffered a spinal cord injury at birth, Kitty Lunn, a professional dancer who has continued despite being in a wheelchair, and Andrea Dalzell, who was recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair New York.

“We tried to choose women who had managed to overcome their obstacles and lead thriving and joyful lives,” Crawford said. “And they are able to contribute to society and contribute to others.”

She also wants all women to feel empowered by the photos and be reminded to focus on their own strengths instead of dwelling on their weaknesses.

The photos were on display at the ACA Galleries in New York City on Sept. 20, but all of them are still available on the Raw Beauty Project NYC’s website.

vtaylor@nydailynews.com

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Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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