It's amazing what representation can do to a person. Recognizing yourself in a public figure can uplift and inspire. I've experienced that first hand when I got recently injured. I was looking for examples. And now a few years later, as a disabled influencer myself, I also see my presence online is uplifting to others. Representation matters! But we need more chances to be seen and heard.
Unfortunately, it's still rare to see people with disabilities in the media or in public positions. In films, roles of persons with disabilities are too often still played by abled actors. Disabled influencers are on the rise but are not paid equally as abled influencers. Disabled models were trending for a short time and inclusive campaigns have become marketing strategies only to boost sales. There is a shift. But we need a revolution.
Seeing public figures with disabilities is not only important for normalization so that others see us as human beings; it can also play a major role in the acceptance process of people with disabilities. Both by ourselves and by the outside world. The more people you come across on screen that you can identify with without it being explicitly about their disability, the more often you think: 'Hey, that person at that party, that person at that company, that person on the cover of that magazine; That can be me!” And the less awkward or confronting it will become when other people meet someone with a disability. For decades people with disabilities were avoided, ignored and discriminated. As an evolving species we need to accept the disabled community and see the value of disabled individuals instead of dismissing us.
We need to see more role models and public figures with disabilities.
Looking for inspiration? Here are a few people you need to know;
Tamara Mena, Tiphany Adams, Steph Aiello, Nathalie Mcgloin, Antwan Tolliver, Jillian Mercado, Leon Ford, Steve Way, Dru Presta, Nick Santonastasso, Shane Burcaw, Fernando Fernandes, Bri Scalesse, Kris Foster, Chloe van Dalen, Oksana Kononets, Somya Thakur, Chelsie Hill, Ashley Archer, Sophie Morgan, Julian Gavino, Nikki Fox, Cristie Grey, Maria Paz Diaz, Samanta Bullock, Nicolas Hamilton, Tina Pesendorfer, Edna Serrano, Conner Lundius, Samantha Lopez, Eva Eikhout, Jeanette Chedda, Rachel Luntungan, Kimi Black, Clifford Thomas, Ana Paula Oliveira, Viky Monroy, etc.