Representation Matters

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Growing up, I rarely saw a person with a disability on screen. There shouldn’t be children with disabilities in the future who can’t see a character on television that is like them. Not only will it benefit disabled kids but non-disabled kids could learn from these disabled based stories that people with disabilities shouldn’t be feared and it is natural to be curious about someone who is “different” than you. 

If I did see a disabled individual on a show, it was most likely a medical show and the person was most likely not disabled in real life. This is disheartening to not see someone like yourself on screen very often just normally going about life. It can make you feel isolated and can stir up feelings that society doesn’t value you as you are. 

Abled bodied individuals  get to see themselves constantly on screen in a variety of storylines. They don’t have to imagine seeing someone like themselves playing a certain role because there is a good chance that a show or movie with that same plot already exists.

While the past history of disability representation in the media hasn’t been great, the future of it is looking promising. Though there have been more accurate displays of disability representation in the media, the amount is still very limited. 

Thankfully, there are so many disabled individuals in all areas of media who are working to improve this. This includes LiveSolo’s own Lauren “Lolo” Spencer. Other big name actors with disabilities that come to mind are RJ Mitte from the award winning Netflix show Breaking Bad, Ryan O’Connell from Netflix’s comedy show Special and Micah Fowler from the ABC show Speechless. All three of these actors I mentioned have Cerebral Palsy just like me which made it so impactful to see them on my tv screen. 

Hollywood has pledged to increase disability representation. The disabled community wants to see individuals with varying disabilities both in front and behind the cameras. The only way to make sure there are a wide range of disability stories in our society is by making sure actual disabled individuals are involved from the writing to the filming process. I hope to one day be part of this movement somehow and help this push for change.  

By showing more disability representation on screen, we are able to accurately show the world what living with a disability truly means. Additionally, we are letting the world know that our disabilities are just a part of who we are. We aren’t one dimensional so the stories about us and our lives shouldn’t be either. These stories need to be showing us living happy, fulfilling lives because being disabled doesn’t have to be tragic and it doesn’t automatically mean a bad life. It needs to be a thing of the past where people pity us and think our lives aren’t worthy of living. Especially with the fact that anyone can join the community at any point in their lives whether it is temporarily due to an injury or permanently due to a diagnosis, accident or just due to aging. 

The only way to help people learn about something is to make it familiar to them. That is what will happen when disabled based stories are shown in the media. We make something that isn’t common at the moment mainstream. By making interesting shows and movies with these types of storylines people will find it easier to watch and more enjoyable to learn from them. 

Personally, this is why I got involved in the advertising field for my bachelor’s degree. Not only was it an interest to me, but I realized the limited amount of disability representation in the media. This is my true passion. As a lifelong media lover, I hope to see my fellow disabled community represented much more in the future. 

In conclusion, our stories and lives are more than worth representing through the various forms of media.