Representation. As a disabled person I know what that one word means to me, but what does it mean to you?
As human beings what we visually see can make a huge impact on our lives and if you’re visually impaired you rely on someone to describe what they are seeing, so what impact does it have on the disabled community when that representation isn’t being seen?
Where are all the disabled people on screen? We must increase representation or risk reinforcing damaging stereotypes
Do we not ALL deserve to see somebody who looks like us. From daytime TV, movies, adverts, books and toys etc – Imagine being a disabled child or adult and all you ever see are typical, non-disabled people. What kind of message is that teaching not to just a disabled child but a non- disabled child as well?
That you are ‘abnormal’. That you are not worthy of being shown to the world, that you’re not beautiful/handsome just the way you are. You might be reading this cringing inside or shouting omg yes it makes me so angry, because of course no child or adult should ever be made to feel that way.
The lack of representation if continued will have serious ramifications for the future generation of disabled people, as disabled children will grow to be life size versions of me. If you grow up with the perception that everybody looks like you. And anybody who doesn’t isn’t ‘normal’ and should be feared. That people is how racism and ableism can be perpetuated into society without us even realising it. After all we’re not born to be ablest.
But despite some progress, there is still a very long way to go before the representation of disabled people is better within the media.
For instance the most recent f*ck ups – Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of limb differences in The Witches last year rightly sparked a furious backlash at the negative stereotype it perpetuated and reinforced. While Hathaway took responsibility for her mistake – another great example of seriously getting it wrong was singer Sia who also sparked frustrations and anger within the disabled community for casting a non-disabled actress for a landmark role of an autistic female. Sia made the situation worse by lashing out at autistic actors and the world instead of owning she made a mistake.
Now, imagine what it would be like if the next generation could see a more diverse and inclusive character in a movie or books, play with a dolls made to look like them. What a message that sends. You are a human and worthy of being included! You are human, just like everybody else!
What can you do?
- Let brands know when you appreciate their inclusivity.
- Let brands know when you believe that they need to make a change.
- Let your children play with toys that represent all types of humans like the wheelchair Barbie (for instance).
I would love to hear you thought on how you feel
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