In a world where to be able-bodied is to be accepted as a member of the social majority, positive disability representation can be hard to come by. Often used in the context of humour, pity, innocence or inspiration, disability becomes a repetitive stereotype as the media miss opportunities for inclusion and normalisation.
Representative media does more than entertain us. It helps to reduce prejudice, stigma and discrimination. Luckily, the advent of social media has given the disability community a chance to take representation into its own hands. These are five fantastic disabled influencers who are taking the social media scene by storm and challenging perceptions surrounding disability.
Born with a facial Cystic Hygroma, otherwise known as a lymphatic malformation or ‘water tumour’, Marimar Quiroa is a talented Latina makeup artist and Zumba instructor with over 577 thousand followers on Youtube alone.
Unable to speak or eat by mouth and facing hearing difficulties as a result of the surgeries she has undergone, Marimar communicates using sign language and is currently studying education in the hopes of teaching deaf children. Fans can keep up with Marimar’s fabulous life (and her incredible makeup skills) on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.
With over 61 thousand Youtube subscribers and plenty of fans on Instagram, Mickey’s awareness-raising mission is definitely working! Sharing details of her journey with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Gastroparesis, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and more, Mickey, best known as Life With Stripes, strives to be a voice of positivity for others living with chronic illnesses.
She documents her medical experiences, shares tips on managing health issues and has recently started her public speaking journey. Mickey is a rising star fighting to make the world chronically inclusive and so far, she’s doing a fantastic job!
Best-known for her bubbly personality, Chanel White is a self-confessed cat lover from Seattle and she’s on a mission to spread awareness of Scleroderma and other autoimmune diseases. Documenting her Bone Marrow Transplant journey, her patient advocacy and public speaking successes and the importance of her faith, Chanel makes the most of every moment and encourages her many followers to do the same.
Details of her days (including some truly majestic mermaid dress-ups!) can be found on her Instagram account and blog, The Tube Fed Wife.
A lover of all things fashion, Emily Davidson founded her blog, Fashioneyesta, in July 2012, aiming to challenge public perceptions of vision loss and share her passion for beauty and style (as well as a few shots of her awesome guide dog, Unity!). Emily lives with Septo Optic Dysplasia, a condition affecting her vision and her endocrine system, and Nystagmus, a condition causing involuntary movement of the eyes.
Achieving a scholarship to study a BA in English Literature at Goldsmiths University and boasting publishing creds with Huffington Post, The Guardian and more, Emily engages with regular public speaking opportunities and has appeared on several TV programmes. She’s a definite overachiever! Fashionable fans can follow Emily’s style tips and fashion must-haves at Fashioneyesta.com.
Ed Rex is a great go-to guy for all things travel! Founder and travel editor of RexyEdventures.com and The Deaf Traveller, he’s jetted all over the world, been invited on several press trips and had his work featured in a variety of travel publications including Eating London, Hostelbookers, TNT and GapYear.com.
An adventurous spirit, Ed is passionate about exploring, seeking his next adrenaline rush and showing the world that solo travel is possible for deaf and hearing impaired people. With his blog still growing along with his list of visited destinations, Ed’s blog is the best way to follow his incredible life!
A writer, teacher and proud cat lover, Rebekah Taussig is passionate about normalising disabled bodies through storytelling and representation. Paralysed since the age of three, Rebekah reflects on the ableist culture she was often surrounded by as a child and now works to challenge perceptions, break down stigma and reshape the disability narrative.
Rebekah has given plenty of interviews and her writing has been featured by Ash Magazine, Under the Gum Tree, Body Positive Power and more. Always keen to share her version of reality (with some great cat pictures dotted throughout!), the best places to find Rebekah are her Sitting Pretty blog and Instagram account.
Author of Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse, co-creator at Squirmy and Grubs and co-founder of Laughing at my Nightmare, Shane Burcaw is passionate about improving disability inclusion for all people, especially children. Living with Muscular Dystrophy, Shane aims to normalise disability and remove divides that enable discrimination. He shares his life on Instagram and his girlfriend, Hannah, does the same!
Carly Findlay is making waves in Australia, raising awareness for disabilities of all kinds including Ichthyosis, a genetic condition that she lives with causing visibly red, dry and thickened skin. An advocacy superstar, Carly’s writing has been published by The Guardian, The Age, Mamamia, Frankie Magazine and more, and she recently released her first book, Say Hello.
When she’s not scribbling out her next wordy masterpiece, Carly juggles speaking opportunities and TV appearances, all with aim of improving disability inclusion and representation in Australia. The best places to keep track of her busy schedule are on her blog, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Want more information on disability in Australian media? The Attitude Foundation is always working towards positive portrayals and media inclusion.