Kylie Jenner’s wheelchair photo shoot sparks predictable outrage

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Disability activists have taken to social media in disgust at a photo shoot for Interview magazine showing 18-year-old Kylie Jenner posing in a wheelchair. 

Jenner, the youngest daughter in the Keeping Up With The Kardashians clan, does not use a wheelchair for everyday mobility and was posing as a model. 

Interview magazine

As the blog Fashionista reports, Stephen Klein photographed her spread in the December/January issue of Interview. His notoriously edgy photography has previously included bondagebloodied corpses and a model surrounded by animals carcasses.

The pictures of Jenner clad in black PVC, sitting astride a male model and sporting ass-less chaps are relatively tame compared to the rest of Klein’s back catalogue. 

However, the casual use of a wheelchair as a fashion prop has enraged many Twitter users. Disability vlogger Ophelia Brown tweeted sarcastically that “being in a wheelchair is so fun and fashionable”:

Kayla Whaley, editor of the website Disability in Kid Lit, responded to the photo shoot with pictures of Jillian Mercado, a model who is actually a wheelchair user:

Jenner’s photoshoot is also getting heavily criticized in the fashion blogosphere. Runway Riot labeled the photo “asinine disability appropriation” in an article which listed other examples of the fashion world practicing “crip drag,” i.e. when a person without a disability portrays a disabled person. 

It’s also noteworthy that Jenner recently used her Instagram account for the anti-bullying campaign #IAmMoreThan to share the story of Audrey, an artist with disabilities, who wrote “#IamMoreThan my wheelchair.”

Given the media-savvy nature of the Jenner and Kardashian families, it will come as a surprise to no one that the controversial magazine cover surfaced the day after Kylie launched her new lipstick kit.

Update 8:10am CT, Dec. 3: This post has been updated to remove a tweet from Twitter user @Bethanyhurts after the account went private and tweets were no longer visible. 

Screengrab via

Catherine Scott

Catherine Scott

Catherine Scott is the author of 'Thinking King: The Collusion of BDSM, Feminism and Popular Culture.' Scott's work has been published in the Telegraph, the Guardian, Ms. Magazine, and Salon.