Meet clinical psychologist and disability advocate Danielle Sheypuk
Danielle Sheypuk, Ph.D., doesn’t just talk about the idea that people with disabilities can have robust and fulfilling romantic lives — she lives it, too. Leading by example, her goal is to show that having a disability, in her case due to spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), doesn’t mean you can’t be hip, sexy and glamorous.
And it doesn’t get much more glamorous than the New York Fashion Week runway, where this spring Sheypuk made her debut as the first-ever runway model in a wheelchair.
“When I hit the runway and the press was there and the lights were on and the DJ was playing, it was really, amazingly empowering,” she says. “I felt like I was carrying everyone with disabilities with me.”
Sheypuk also is participating in the Raw Beauty NYC project, which features photos that show women with disabilities in a sensual light. Both projects reflect her desire to be the kind of role model for people with disabilities that she never had as a child.
“I don’t want to be the Mother Teresa of disability; I want to be the Madonna,” she laughs.
When she’s not moonlighting as a fashion model, Danielle Sheypuk runs a Skype-based clinical psychology practice that specializes in intimacy among individuals with disabilities. Visit daniellesheypuk.com for details, and look for her upcoming article about dating with a disability in the Fall 2014 issue of Quest.