Awesome people with disabilities to be aware of in popular media

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It’s no secret that Hollywood isn’t very good at including people with varying levels of ability. The good news is that it’s gotten better. Little things such as Princess Eugenie choosing to wear a backless wedding gown to display her scar from her scoliosis surgery or movies that show heroes such as Iron Man struggling with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder have been solid leaps forward. Fantastic shows such as “Atypical” and movies such as “The Fundamentals of Caring” or “The Theory of Everything” have also been great developments, but there’s still a ways to go. 

It can be difficult, as a person with a disability, when you don’t see anyone who could possibly be like you in popular media. But recently, these issues have been seen more and more in the public eye. We at the Clog thought we would share a few of our favorite well-known media figures who have disabilities.

 Jessica Kellgren-Fozard 

YouTubers such as Jessica Kellgren-Fozard have spoken online about chronic fatigue and deafness. Kellgren-Fozard is a lovely, articulate Brit from Brighton. To many, it wouldn’t seem like she has anything “wrong” with her at all. She’s discussed this, and the problem of “not looking disabled” even though she is almost totally deaf and has both hereditary neuropathy with pressure palsies and mixed connective tissue disease. Kellgren-Fozard has been part of a discussion with many other fantastic YouTubers with disabilities about relationships and dating as a person with a disability and often post videos about her relationship with her wife.

Gem Hubbard

Known for her YouTube channel called “Wheelsnoheels,” Hubbard has also discussed making public spaces more accessible to people with disabilities. With Hubbard, her spinal cord injury makes her disability much more obvious, as she is in a wheelchair. Hubbard has courageously video blogged about wheelchair positivity and has discussed the stigma and the expectations that come with illness. 

Lara Parker and Kelsey Darragh from BuzzFeed

These YouTube favorites have discussed how their journeys with pain aren’t straight lines. While Parker’s pain stems from endometriosis and Darragh’s is nerve-related, they both have gone on long voyages with their pain. These women made a series of videos about their efforts to deal with their chronic pain and their hopes of finding the cure. Parker has discussed how enjoying herself when she has good days with less pain has made people doubt the legitimacy of her illness. Darragh, an outgoing and cheerful person, has also expressed similar problems in which her illness has been doubted because of her generally positive attitude — this despite her struggles with anxiety.

While both women are still on their own personal journeys toward wellness, they’ve maintained their hope and honesty, since they know there are many followers on social media with similar disabilities. In one of her Instagram posts, Parker addressed a conversation she had with a friend. Part of the caption states: “she told me that i had to climb these mountains to show others how, that i had to bear the strain of the climb so that the people coming after me wouldn’t have as hard of a time.”

Zach Kornfeld

Kornfeld of the BuzzFeed Try Guys has discussed his autoimmune disorder and how he’s taking back his life since his diagnosis. This includes the dietary and physical changes he’s had to make in order to live his life to the fullest.

By talking about his illnesses, Kornfeld has helped validate those with similar invisible disabilities, which are rarely shown on any sort of platform. His work has given attention to illnesses and disabilities that were previously ignored so that younger generations hopefully won’t have as much trouble with the mountains Kornfeld has had to climb.

Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

These comedians and writers have both talked about their struggles with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The two often exaggerate their characters for the sketches on their YouTube show “Just Between Us.” Like many people who are put on certain types of medication, Raskin has experienced antidepressant-related weight gain and has discussed the public perception of it, showing that her own mental wellness takes precedence over any perception of her appearance.

Jameela Jamil

Jamil continues the discussion of body image. The lovely star of the show “The Good Place” has become a vocal critic of Photoshop, as well as other impossible body modifications and regulations that women have to live with. As someone who has struggled with anorexia, Jamil sees the danger in pushing this unhealthy obsession with body ideals onto women and aims to do something about it.

Hopefully, we can all take a page from these awesome, role models and continue the crucial conversation about both physical and mental health.

Contact Lauren West at [email protected].