So here is a question for all, especially for those without a disability; Who were your idols when you were growing up? Who did you aspire to be? Don’t be shy just a fun question which may take you back to those crazy hair styles that may have gone wrong and funky clothes you copied!
Who were those famous people that really influenced your style, creativity or career to this day? Now what is it about that person that made you as a kid aspire to be like them? I bet at times it’s because you saw a part of yourself in them.
Now imagine how different your life may have been if that person didn’t exist. There was nobody to copy your style from, no one to inspire you, follow in their career path. no one to crush on. Nobody similar to you in any way to look up to.
That’s what so many young disabled children and adults go through every day, and I was one of them.
Growing up I didn’t see anybody like me on TV, in magazines or just in the public eye. There wasn’t really anybody that I could truly say “wow they’re like me, maybe I could do that too.” I didn’t realise how important this truly was until I became a mentor for young children and disabled adults. Having casual conversations with them really opened my eyes. It was clear that young disabled people either didn’t have any one to aspire to, or they dreamed they could be someone completely different, as their idols looked so vastly different to them. The worst part of it is speaking to some of the young children and hearing them say they didn’t know what to do in the future, they didn’t know who they wanted to be and never saw anybody like them on TV.
To many people this might not sound like a big deal but when you really think about it, seeing some sort of representation can make people feel inspired and really push them to do something they’ve always wanted to do. Whether its to pursue a career or even just spark a new hobby, style or trend.
It took speaking to the youngsters for me to realise that not having a representation of myself growing up really did impact my life. Maybe if I saw someone like myself acting, dancing or modelling I probably would’ve been inspired to do this from a very young age. Imagine how different the conversations would have been for me being a mentor with young disabled children and adults if there was idols I could show them, or idols who inspired me. Just imagine how different the world could’ve truly been if this happened decades ago.
We can all see that this is changing! There are so many amazing individuals, organisations and companies really pushing and are at the fourth front of representation of people with disabilities. Many of us do what we do to vastly tilt the scales of representation across the media so that seeing somebody with a disability or difference becomes “the norm”. This gives the next generation the option to aspire to be someone that is like them in some way shape or form. This could mean they don’t feel alone. It is very easy to feel this way when you don’t see a representation of yourself regularly. There are many people, especially with disabilities, that have been fighting this fight for years and I have the upmost respect for them because without them we wouldn’t have the blueprint to even think of a society with a wide range of representation.
It takes a lot to do something that many haven’t done before. The importance of representation in the media is important and, let’s face it, is the quickest educational source that we all use without even realising it. We all learn so much just by watching a film, seeing an advert, and reading a magazine.
This blog is for those who didn’t even realise they have minimal/ no representation in the media, for those that know there is no representations to them, and for those changing how representation is shown of people with disabilities and differences in the media.
We can all benefit from seeing some kind of representation of ourselves regularly whether it’s hair, size, shape, ethnicity, culture, difference, disability and more.
It’s about time the media reflected a little bit more of reality.