raw beauty

Photo: Walter Chin

Early one morning in 1984, Wendy Crawford was driving to the airport when a drunk driver hit her car, leaving her a quadriplegic at age 19. She had been about to catch a flight to Tokyo for her first international modeling gig, and after the accident—and years of rehabilitation—she still dreamed of continuing her career. But no clients wanted to book her.

"Women with disabilities haven't been represented in the media much," Crawford says, "so people have a false sense of how we should look." In response, in 2006, she joined five other women to create Uncensored Life: Raw Beauty, an exhibition featuring stunning portraits of unconventional models. Last year she helped launch a spin-off, The Raw Beauty Project NYC, which debuted in New York with photos of 20 models, including Crawford in an elegant black gown.

"People have told me they never saw women with disabilities as sensual—until viewing these pictures," says Crawford, now 50. "They're a reminder that beauty isn't determined by ability." For more on the exhibit, a partnership with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, visit RawBeautyNYC.com.

Next: See photos from the project
raw beauty

Photo: Michael Haber

Carlana Stone, a paraplegic, models her tattoos.
raw beauty

Photo: Paula Vasone

Andrea Dalzell strikes a sultry pose.
raw beauty

Photo: Daryl Henderson

After a lower leg amputation in her early 20s, Katherine Crawford is pursuing a career in film and modeling.