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Female Influencers Driving the Conversation on Disability Inclusion

A lady in a wheelchair, on her laptop.

It’s time to break through the stigma. The importance of having disability representation in the media is crucial

The word stigma is defined as a set of negative beliefs associated with a particular circumstance, or quality of the person. The disabled community are battling the stigmas attached to the word ‘disabled’.

Around 15% of the world's population live with a disability. These are both seen and unseen. Some of the issues that this community face are being called uncapable, they face discrimination, there is a lack of disability friendly facilities and can often be excluded from learning opportunities. What happened to inclusion and social awareness?

Social media is taking over our lives but this isn’t a bad thing. Social media personalities who deal with a disability are starting to speak out and raise awareness of the hardships people within their community feel.

One of the ways influencers are spreading their message is the social media app TikTok. TikTok is quickly becoming the most used app with 1 billion active users. However this isn’t just an app for viral videos; This app has become a space to educate about social issues and raise awareness about social injustices around the world. These are just some of the influencers leading the conversation on disability awareness.

@mimidarlingbeauty- Jessie Davies

Jessie Davies is a Social media personality from Canon Valley in Wales. She goes by the name @mimidarlingbeauty on TikTok where she shares her daily struggles with having a speech impediment.

At just 4 years old, Jessie had developed a speech delay which later developed into a stammer. She shared on her TikTok that her day to day became very difficult growing up. From struggling in school to enduring harassment from her bullies, Jessie shares her story with her 3.5 million followers; She is raising awareness about people with stammers and shows others how she constantly challenges herself to speak to members of the public. In doing this several people use Jessie as an inspiration to do the same.

@wheelierin- Erin Novakowski

Erin Novakowski is a comedian and disability advocate on TikTok from Alberta,Canada. She has gained over 600k followers on the social media app. Erin has spinal muscular atrophy and she is a wheelchair user. Her content showcases all the normal experiences that disabled people go through and that they aren't much different from abled people. She also likes to use her platform to clapback at haters and answer strange questions from her followers in a comedic way. Erin aims to educate the wider community about the misinformation that gets spread concerning people with disabilities, whilst adding her own stories for people to relate to. In a previous TikTok Q&A she states that oversharing is caring as it helps to allow people to relate her experiences; encouraging other people with the same experiences to share more of their own stories too.

It is not just social media activists taking the stage to fight for the injustices they face, but there are also journalists taking a stand right beside them.

Dr Frances Ryan

Dr Frances Ryan is a journalist at The Guardian and an advocate for the disabled community. Dr Ryan has generalised muscle weakness and is a wheelchair user. She frequently uses her platform to write pieces about the injustices the disabled community face and how we as a general public can improve upon these issues.

Frances regularly frequents radio shows such as BBC 4’s Woman's hour to speak out on relevant unreported issues and has even written a few books. Moreover, she has won awards for her journalist pieces. The National Press Awards 2019 awarded her as Specialist Journalist of the Year and she has even been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. Frances has previously stated in an interview with Disability Power about her views on the lack of representation around her.

“There’s still a real lack of disabled people in the public eye, and it’s easy to feel like the media isn’t for people like us. I want young people with disabilities and health conditions to know it’s absolutely possible, with the right support. Our voices are hugely important.”

She is continuously raising awareness and fighting for the disability community to be heard.

Keah Brown

Keah Brown is an actress, author, screenwriter and journalist. Brown was born with cerebral palsy, which affects her motor skills and coordination. She is fighting to reclaim the narrative that those who have disabilities are incapable.

In 2017 Keah started the hashtag #DisabledAndCute on Twitter to make herself realise that her disability was not the only thing that defined her. The hashtag went viral and magazines such as Teen Vogue, Shape and Cosmopolitan all shared Keah’s story. Keah has released several books about representation and has caught the attention of several celebrities, such as Brie Larson and Sophia Bush. Now she regularly takes to her social media accounts to share her story and be a voice for other people.

There is still a lot to do to raise awareness on the fight for the disabled community. Although this is the case, no one is leading the way better than these women. More representation is still needed so that people who are within this community feel they have a voice. In a world where mass change is constantly happening, it's time to break away from the stigma and push the boundaries of the normal to create a new normal.

It's time to have representation for all.


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