An educator, writer, activist, and influencer who began blogging as a way to participate in the fashion industry which excluded the differently-abled
Five Facts about Sinead Burke
Born with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism
Raised in Ireland and has four siblings
Worked as a primary school teacher before starting on her PhD
Co-founded the Inclusive Fashion and Design Collective
Spoke about accessible design at a TED Talk
Inspirational Quotes from Sinead Burke
“Disability is articulated as a struggle, an unnecessary burden that one must overcome to the soundtrack of a string crescendo. But disabled lives are multi-faceted - brimming with personality, pride, ambition, love, empathy, and wit.”
“The word 'midget' is a slur. It evolved from P. T. Barnum's era of circuses and freak shows. Society has evolved. So should our vocabulary. Language is a powerful tool. It does not just name our society. It shapes it.”
“Clothes are not a frivolous subject, and the conversation around them should not be belittled. How we dress affects what we feel, what we do, and who we are.”
“For so long, the fashion industry has designed almost exclusively for a particular woman with particular measurements, and they've never really been challenged on it. We're all consumers, yet we're rarely given a voice within this industry that dictates what we wear.”
“My height was not a deterrent, and it did not make me the person I am. It was like my long brown hair or my brown eyes - a physical characteristic that differentiated me from quite a percentage of the population.”
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Sinead Burke Biography
She was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, to Chris and Kath. Her parents founded the Irish Association for Restricted Growth in 1997, later called Little People of Ireland. She is the eldest of her siblings, and was always encouraged to follow her dreams.
She decided early on that education was a catalyst for change, and trained as a primary school teacher. Currently, she is completing a PhD programme at Trinity College, studying the way in which educational institutions allow children’s voices to be heard. Her TED Talk, “Why design should include everyone” was instrumental in articulating her views on fashion and disability.
Mission and Work
She is well known as an advocate who has, through her speeches and writing, tried to shine a spotlight on the gap between the fashion industry and disabled people. She was always interested in fashion, and through her advocacy work, she entered into partnerships with big brand names.
She was extremely nervous during her 2017 TED Talk, but decided to use the influential platform to speak her mind. Becoming the face of little people, she spoke about how the fashion industry could play a huge part in stepping up for the community. The talk was very well received, and she was invited to the Business of Fashion Voices conference as well.
In 2018, she was the sole Irish female delegate at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, and the following year, she went again as a Cultural Leader. Her activism is not only about getting representation for disabled people however. She is keener to bring about systemic change, and tries to influence the existing business culture through lectures, writings and social media.
Her activism has led her to collaborate with big fashion brands like Ferragamo and Burberry. She has spoken out about how, as a disabled person, she never saw herself represented in the ads or products of the fashion houses. She realized that she was going to have to talk to the top names to get her voice heard.
She was chosen to participate in the diversity and fashion exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. She had a body cast made for the 'Body Beautiful' exhibition, the first little person mannequin in the world. Her hope is that fashion magazines feature minority voices and bodies just as they do others.
Her enormous courage and determination in facing daunting challenges navigating through a world where differently-abled people are viewed with scorn most of the time, continues to be a source of inspiration for many.
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