Redefining Beauty: A Disability Advocacy Presentation with Dr. Alette Coble-Temple and Rick Guidotti

Once in a while, an individual comes along who completely embodies the idea of perseverance; an individual whose determination to overcome all odds is at once inspiring and astonishing. Dr. Alette Coble-Temple is one such individual.

Born with cerebral palsy, Dr. Alette Coble-Temple has gone on to earn a clinical doctorate degree, become a licensed psychologist for the Department of State Hospitals and a core faculty member of the PsyD program at JFK University. She even won the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2016 along the way!

Dr. Coble-Temple found out at a young age that just because she had a disability didn’t mean she had to live a life devoid of beauty. Her mother made a point of surrounding a young Alette with art while still maintaining an environment attuned to her needs.

“Everything connected to disability is so medicalized,” Dr. Coble-Temple says. “The function is not artistic.”

This love for the arts is evident from her forays into painting to her involvement in fashion. It was at a fashion show in New York where she met Rick Guidotti, an award-winning photographer.

“He came up to me and asked for a picture,” Dr. Coble-Temple remembers. From then on, a friendship was born.

There was a time when Rick Guidotti was one of the most sought-after fashion photographers in the business. From photographing the likes of Cindy Crawford to working for industry giants including Yves St. Laurent, Revlon, and L’Oreal, Rick was continuously surrounded by the epitome of conventional beauty. After a chance meeting at a bus stop in New York, however, his career would take a turn that would drastically shift the way he perceived and presented beauty.

He had spent the day in a photo shoot with supermodel Cindy Crawford in Manhattan. While on a break, he happened to stumble upon a woman standing at the bus stop. Her skin was pale and her hair dead white, the telltale signs of the genetic condition albinism. To Rick, she was stunning.

This event set Rick’s interest and involvement with the disabled community in motion. After finding a severe lack of photography that presented disabled individuals in a human light, he took it upon himself to help change the portrayal. So he quit his job in high fashion and started a non-profit called Positive Exposure. The mission was simple: to utilize photography, film and narrative to transform public perceptions of people living with genetic, physical, intellectual and behavioral differences.

Now Rick travels the world photographing models of a different sort. The beauty, if not as conventional, is still present, made brighter by the depth of humanity present in every image.

Dr. Coble-Temple considers him an ally. “It’s one thing for someone with a disability to advocate for disability rights,” she says. “It’s another thing when someone from outside your community really rises to the occasion.”

On March 1, 2017, in honor of the Disability Day of Remembrance, Dr. Coble-Temple and Rick Guidotti will come together for a powerful presentation on disability advocacy at the John F. Kennedy University Berkeley Campus. See you there.