“Women Who Work” is a series that celebrates the millennial woman who is breaking barriers for women, excelling in business, contributing to her community and industry in a big way, and setting the example for other women to go out in the world and kick-ass. If you or someone you know fits this description, feel free to reach out for a feature!
I first met this “Woman Who Works” 3 years ago when I was recruiting for our sorority. Katherine was a quiet freshman who had just moved to Texas from Chicago, but something about her stood out to me immediately. She had a quiet strength and dignity that I knew could be transferred into leadership skills. These days, she’s surpassed my expectations and has become an advocate for physically differently-abled women and women struggling with body accepotance across the world. Leanr more about this “Woman Who Works” below.
Katherine Anne McCain
San Antonio, TX
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Awards & Recognition:
Worth Living Ambassador, SheLift Ambassador, Professional freelance model, Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority
Singing, Yoga, Dancing
What woman do you look up to most, and why?
I can’t choose a specific one, but rather a number of my peers. I look up to all six girls that went on the first ever SheLift retreat with me. On the trip, the girls and I all had different limb-differences but found so much similarity in our conversations between having feelings of being inferior and insecure. Talking to them I had the realization that everyone has something they are insecure about. We all have different insecurities but they are insecurities nonetheless, just like able-bodied people are self-conscious about things too.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I really don’t know what to call it because with social media I think what I want to hasn’t been created yet. To give it a name I’d say I want to be a “girl boss” when I grow up. I want to be my own brand. I want to be in the eyes of the public as a signed model to represent women with disabilities and I want to speak about my hardships and further the conversation of mental health awareness.
You were born without your left forearm, a condition known as Amelia. How did growing up with physically differently-abled affect who you are today for the better? The worse?
For the better it shaped me into the woman I am today. It is because of my arm that I advocate so much for representation in the media and the open conversation of mental illness. It is because of it that I am courageous and able to help so many others like me.
For the worse it is a main/major tie into any mental illness I battle (ie my eating disorder and low self-esteem). Something that several of us talked about on the trip was how it is because we dislike our disability that we have struggles like being self-destructive.
You’ve been very open about your struggles with self-confidence, depression, and the subsequent destructive self-behaviors that followed them. Why do you think it’s so important to be so candid about these struggles?
I think it’s so important because when you don’t talk to someone about these things you hurt yourself. If you keep struggles bottled up inside and can’t find anyone to relate to that’s when things really take a downward spiral. For me, personally, I always brushed any feelings I had away and then when I was 19 it hit me all at once and I desperately needed a therapist. I’ve had so many people message me commending me for sharing my story and saying that they can relate themselves and that it helps to know they aren’t alone. There’s a huge community on Instagram and we all bring each other up it’s really amazing to see. One girl that I know through social media that does this is Molly Higgins (@mollyahiggins). I haven’t met her personally but she always shares things that inspire so many people because like me she is differently abled. Not in the same way as me but we relate to each other so much regardless- again bringing back the idea that everyone has different things they are insecure about but everyone has Something.
As a professional model and someone who has become an advocate and face for physically differently-abled women, what’s one thing you think every woman who feels “too different” or struggling with body issues should know?
They should know that people don’t like or love you based on what you look like, they love you for who you are as a person. It took me years to realize that one person’s opinion of me is not everyone’s.
What’s do you think women should be doing to create a community of inclusiveness for different types of beauty?
I think there needs to be more representation in the media overall. It was by chance that I found Sarah Herron on Instagram and saw that someone like me could be beautiful and successful. Since then I have found so many amazing women like me who are differently abled that I look up to online, but many people aren’t like me and don’t know anyone like them. Many limb different people don’t know they have any type of community.
In 2016 you became an ambassador for SheLift, an organization that empowers girls with physical differences to improve self-acceptance and confidence through outdoor adventures and body-positive mentorship. What’s been the most rewarding part of that whole experience?
Definitely the outreach and the people I’ve met. In July of this year, I got to meet little girls born limb different and their moms and it was amazing to connect with them. They can’t comprehend how much it’ll help them grow up to have us older girls as role models.
In the next five years, what type of positive change would you like to bring to through your advocacy?
I’d like to see more people supporting each other! I know so many girls, for example, that tell me they could never post a picture showing their limb difference or talking about their battles and I think we need to be more encouraging of others to share.