Is this Britain’s smallest model? Tiny 4ft woman hits the catwalk
Is this Britain’s smallest model? This is the tiny 4ft model taking the catwalk by storm.
Models are known for being endlessly tall with legs up to their armpits – but teeny Mary Russell is nearly 2ft shorter than most of her model pals.
The 4ft1in beauty suffers with achondroplasia – the medical term for dwarfism – which means she has as average sized torso but short arms and short legs, with an oversized head – but she;s overrun with clients booking her to strut her stuff on the catwalk.
The condition leaves Mary, 47, struggling with everyday tasks – things most people take for granted like going to the supermarket, getting cash from an ATM and ordering a drink at a bar become a challenge.
And when Mary hangs out with her model mate, 23-year-old Georgia Meacham, the statuesque 6ft beauty towers over her – although she does come in handy for grabbing cereal from the top shelf.
But thanks to charity Models of Diversity (MOD), dwarfism hasn’t stopped Mary strutting her stuff on the catwalk.
MOD are committed to getting a range of more diverse models – including black models, short models and disabled models – onto catwalks and into magazines.
Mum-of-one Mary, from Paddington, London, said: “I’m the only model I know of who’s this small – a lot of models with dwarfism are a bit taller than me, at around 4ft6.
“But it doesn’t matter if you’re 4ft or 6ft, we all serve the same purpose.
“When I work with models like Georgia we do get a lot of strange reactions – people always gather to stop and stare.
“I can understand why, we’re at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
“But regardless of that, we can come together and work together beautifully like any other models.
“As a little person, I struggle with a lot of things – shopping in supermarkets is a massive bug bare, whether trying to reach items from the higher shelves or struggling with multiple shopping bags, and I literally have to get inside the freezer to grab a bag of frozen veg!
“Trying to get served at bars is also a challenge as often staff can’t see me waiting, I can never find any clothes to fit in shops, and things like cash machines and train ticket machines are also a bit hit and miss.
“But being a little person doesn’t stop me strutting down a catwalk or posing for a photo shoot like any other model!
“There are obviously issues – when I’m doing catwalk shows the adrenaline kicks in, and the excitement helps to numb the pain – but as soon as I’m backstage I need to sit down and have a break because my back’s playing up.
“Everyone seems to love what I do though – people are used to seeing models, like Georgia, of a set look, type and height, and no one ever thinks little people like me can model.
“But there is a place for us – it’s just a case of inspiring more little people to have the confidence to get out there and do it.
“We want to make it the norm, not a novelty.”
Mary has been modelling since she discovered MOD online in 2014, and got in touch with founder Angel Sinclair – who snapped her up.
Since then, she’s had countless editorial and catwalk job for brands all over the world.
Mary, who is also a blogger and fashion and design student, said: “It’s all kicked off from there!
“Before then, I couldn’t recall seeing models with dwarfism anywhere.
“It’s difficult, because with dwarfism you don’t know how people will take you, especially with something like modelling which has very set standards.
“I was used to seeing people laughing at me behind my back, and didn’t know what the reaction would be.
“I’ve grown up only ever knowing abuse – it wasn’t pretty – the most offensive remark is probably ‘midget’, and people just use it so casually.
“But I’m not a midget – I’m just Mary.
“From the second I step out of my front door I’m on show, and dwarfism isn’t something you can’t hide.
“But I’ve been surprised at how positive the reaction to my modelling has been – people are really starting to embrace it.
“Little people are often left out in the cold when it comes to fashion – we are overlooked as a community of people who are considered to be not interested in fashion, when that is simply not the case.
“Just because we’re little people, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy fashion and wear what everybody else wears – so there should be models to represent that.”
MOD founder Angel said: “We have more than 6,000 little people in the UK – why are there no flagship stores that cater for little people’s clothing?
“I’ve worked tirelessly for the inclusion of disabled models in the UK for the past eight years.
“It’s important that the fashion industry recognises the importance of fashion for all.
“Disability is not a choice – discrimination is.”
For more information visit www.modelsofdiversity.org