Monique was one of the models featured in the NYC Raw Beauty Project exhibit. She had plans to become a hairdresser and makeup artist when she became paralyzed in a car accident. After a period of adjustment and hard work, she graduated from college as a social worker and worked at an Independent Living Center where she connected with other women with disabilities. Empowered through these relationships, she wanted to create a group where women could support one another in coping and learning creative strategies while living with a disability.
Monique started a sister chapter of Women Embracing Abilities Now (W.E.A.N.) in Charlotte NC. Among many initiatives, the group advocates for equal areas to breast and OB/GYN medical care and educates the community about the high rates of health disparities for people with disabilities. Monique says, believe that there's a sisterhood among women with disabilities and it's important to share our stories with each other. I want us to be seen and treated just as intelligent, valuable, beautiful, sexy, and as sexual as women who don't have a disability. But we have to help each other see it first. I do what I do to bridge the gap; help build a trust among us, and to reframe the initial pain into power. Turning pain into power is the mantra that gives me strength.
Photographer Silvio Suarez