Glory in excelsis.
Up-and-coming catwalk queen Glory Quinonez may be just 4’1″ tall, but her stage presence is larger than life.
The 33-year-old, diagnosed before birth with a bone growth disorder called achondroplasia dwarfism, felt like she was “born to be a model” — despite the relentless bullying she faced as a child.
“I want to break the barriers down for all the little people out there to follow their dreams,” the native New Yorker told SWNS.
“Especially in the fashion industry, which can be cut-throat.”
But times might be changing.
Quinonez proudly became the first Hispanic person with dwarfism on a New York Fashion Week catwalk nearly a decade ago, thanks to the help of the charity organization Courageous Face Foundation.
And last year, she stunned at Brooklyn Fashion Week and was noticed by a number of fashion houses — who booked her for this season’s New York and Paris Fashion Weeks slated for February.
“Walking down the catwalk was like a dream come true for me,” said Quinonez, who works a day job as a tour guide at Manhattan’s Museum of Ice Cream.
Glory’s parents learned of her dwarfism well before she was born, but declined an offer to terminate the pregnancy.
Quinonez, who was raised in New York before moving to Florida as a pre-teen, was subjected to ruthless bullying in high school — other kids laughed that she was “so short” and said things like, ‘Look at that midget,” she recalled.
“That would really hurt me, it’s a really discriminatory and offensive term for someone with Dwarfism,” she explained.
“I felt like I was [on] America’s Most Wanted.”
But she never let the cruel comments tear her down, and instead “won people over” with her sense of chic.
“I became quite cool and popular for my style,” she said. “The kids said I had ‘swag’ and came to me for advice.”
While she always dreamed of modeling on a runway, she never thought she’d have a chance due to her condition.
But when she moved back to the Big Apple in 2010 at the age of 20, she was eventually contacted by Trish Morris, president of Courageous Faces Foundation, to participate in Fashion Week with designer Gregory Taylor.
“It was unbelievable experience,” she gushed.
“I fell in love with modeling, and everything that goes into making a fashion show.”
In 2019, Quinonez walked for designer Bunnie Benton for New York Fashion Week and later was mentored by the creative director of Brooklyn Fashion Week, Rick Davy, when she worked the event as an intern in 2022.
“My ultimate dream is to being a creative director of a fashion label — directing my own shows,” she said.
Last year, she walked for up-and-coming designer CeCe Hind at Brooklyn Fashion Week, earning herself a spot at Fashion Week in both New York and Paris in February, and is slated to begin fashion design courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in September.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work, getting involved in shows and putting myself out there,” she said.
“I really hope I can inspire other people with disabilities not to shy away. We can achieve anything we put our minds to.”