Fashion news

Model proudly ‘comes out’ as deaf

Georgia Meacham sitting on a plane

Georgia Meacham’s modelling career has been blooming over the past few years, flick through the pages of a Vogue magazine and there’s every chance you will set eyes on her attractive figure, beautiful eyes and luscious lips.

But those lips have been hiding a secret for the past 12 years, they have been reading for as long as Meacham can remember.

The model was born with moderate hearing loss, at 17 months she started using devices behind her ears so she could pick up and join in conversations.

At the age of 18 she landed herself with a modelling contract, but ‘ashamed’ of her disability she kept quiet about being partly deaf.

Now 30, Meacham has made a U-Turn, she wants to be a role model for other deaf people and says “coming out” as disabled is one of the best choices she has ever made.

She told Sun Online: "Hiding my disability has been one of the most draining things I've ever done - but I'm so excited to start my new life.

"People probably look at me and think 'tall blonde model who doesn't have any struggles' - but I want to show people that disability doesn't have a certain look.

"23 percent of women in the UK are disabled, according to the Women's Budget Group - we need more representation in the media.

"I look at celebrities like Tasha Ghouri and Rose Ayling-Ellis and I feel like I want to be as confident as them."

It wasn’t a problem for her growing up as a deaf child, as Meacham explained her disability never created any boundaries. 

She would wear her hair up to build up confidence in the  classroom, where she was one of the popular kids.

"When I was going through school, I was very confident," she told the paper.

"I was never bullied for my deafness.

"I didn't have a chance to hide it, either, because I had to wear my hair up.

"I might've wanted to hide them if things had been different - but I didn't have much choice."

But in September 2021, her first year at Queen Mary University, Meacham started to feel conscious about wearing hearing devices, trying to cover them up  by wearing her hair down. 

"I hated the thought of mentioning my deafness,” she recalled.

"I didn't know how to discuss it with new people.

"I felt like I'd disassociated myself with being deaf."

At the age of 18 she was scouted by a model agency, snapping up her first fashion deal, appearing in music videos with the likes of Tinie Tempah, Cheryl and One Direction.

But all the time she was lip reading directions asked by photographers and directors, keeping her disability a safety guarded secret.

Meacham said: "Modelling became a fresh chapter in my life - I wanted to re-identify myself.

"I thought hiding my hearing devices [sic] would make me a more successful model.

"I'd go to castings with my hair down - because I never saw any models with hearing aids.

"On shoots, I'd quickly take my hearing aids out and chuck them in my bag - I absolutely hated them.

"And I was just in complete denial, really. I had to guess what was being said on set all the time."

From modelling she stepped into the role of acting, bagging roles in the likes of  ‘Bridget Jones’ Baby’ and ‘Wonder Woman 1984’, but once again she never disclosed her hearing loss to the cast and crew, trying to lip read all the time during shoots.

Eventually she could not keep quiet anymore, she knew it was time to let her secret out of the bag.

"It was incredibly mentally exhausting, lipreading the whole time,” Meacham said.

"Deaf people already suffer from something called 'deafness fatigue' - because it takes more brain power for us to hear what people are saying.

"I was working myself into the ground, trying to hide this secret of mine."

Since going public with her deafness Meacham has not been involved in any public photoshoots, but has no issue having her hearing devices proudly on display.

She said: "I feel really determined now - to use this position to speak about deaf representation in my industries.

"There needs to be that accessibility on set - I would've loved an extra person with me to take notes on my cues and directions.

"When you're casting for a TV show - don't just have one disabled person as a tick-box exercise.

"There needs to be more of a spotlight shone on hidden disabilities, too.

"I'm so proud to reintroduce myself as a model with hearing devices [sic].

"I feel so excited to start this new chapter as someone who embraces my disability."

[ Georgia Meacham has her first British Sign Language class booked for this month. ]

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