‘Disability Gain’ and the Limits of Representing Alternative Beauty

  • Ann M. Fox
  • Matthias Krings
  • Ulf Vierke
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment book series (PSGE)


In this conversation, Ann Fox, Matthias Krings and Ulf Vierke debate the concept of ‘disability gain’ and the limits of representing alternative beauty. The concept demands that we regard disability inclusion as a resource gain, instead of a resource drain. While this approach complicates and questions the societal definition and devaluation of ‘disability,’ it also raises a number of debatable issues. For example, what happens when ‘disabled’ bodies are commodified in an attempt to represent so-called alternative beauty? The conversation shows that, while the stakes for the fashion-beauty industry in extending aesthetic norms, pluralizing beauty and mainstreaming diversity are high, it manoeuvres within the economic logics of a capitalist market that, in its celebration of ‘difference,’ often reproduces forms of othering.


  1. Bauman, H-Dirksen L., and Joseph J. Murray, eds. 2014. Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1996. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Charlton, James I. 1998. Nothing About Us Without Us. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Hendren, Sara. 2017. “Public Is Plural: Disability, Design, and Audiences for Our Work.” Keynote Address Presented During DisArt Symposium, ArtPrize Hub, Grand Rapids, MI, 7 April.Google Scholar
  5. Longmore, Paul. 2003. “Screening Stereotypes: Images of Disabled People in Television and Motion Pictures.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability, 131–46. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Roth, Anna-Lena. 2015. “Albino-Model Shaun Ross. Makel? Marke!” Spiegel-Online, 8 July. Online at: (21 September 2016) [German].
  7. Samuels, Ellen. 2017. “Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time.” Disability Studies Quarterly 37 (3). Online at: (19 December 2017).
  8. Umathum, Sandra. 2015. “Actors Nonetheless.” In Disabled Theater, edited by S. Umathum and B. Wihstutz, 99–112. Zürich: Diaphanes [German].Google Scholar
  9. Vogue. 2013. “Patrick Mohr: HUMAN-Kollektion Frühjahr/Sommer 2014.” Vogue, 27 June. Online at: (19 December 2017) [German].
  10. Wihstutz, Benjamin. 2017. “Nichtkönnen, Nichtverstehen: Zur politischen Bedeutung einer Disability Aesthetics in den Darstellenden Künsten.” In Re/produktionsmaschine Kunst, edited by F. Kreuder, E. Koban, and H. Voss, 61–74. Bielefeld: Transcript [German].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann M. Fox
    • 1
  • Matthias Krings
    • 2
  • Ulf Vierke
    • 3
  1. 1.Davidson CollegeDavidsonUSA
  2. 2.Johannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany
  3. 3.University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

Personalised recommendations