As a child, teen, and adult with a physical disability I’ve always been aware that my body was different than my peers. When I was a teen I would often try to compensate for this difference by having like oh so amazing hair or “spicing” up my face with some piercings (sorry dad). These tactics appeased my body image issues for a few months until I saw repeatedly, how much recognition that girls’ my age would get from showing off their bodies.
As I became more mature and accepting of being a woman with a disabled body, I saw a movement start to emerge. Bloggers & advocates of all types were showing off their bodies with a degree of confidence that I knew I wanted to obtain. I began playing with the idea of doing a risqué photo shoot to post on my Instagram. I had NO idea how it would be received, and quite frankly, I was scared. After I tapped the post button, my heart started racing as I watched my feed fill with likes and comments. 99.9% of the comments were positive. I started receiving messages from people of all body types saying they admired my confidence and body positivity. Success. That’s what it’s about, those messages, that effect is has on people. Sometimes you need to weigh out a little risk to get a reward larger then you anticipated.
I started realizing that there was an epidemic on social media and most media outlets in regards to body positivity and beauty standards that I never had really taken any sort of time to acknowledge. On Instagram, my feed was flooded with fit, toned, woman and girls in bikinis. These bloggers would get hundreds of thousands of likes because they had the body type that society has trained us to desire. I decided that I had a bigger message I wanted to sent out to people with bodies of all types: regardless of what type of body you have, you can be body positive and be sexy. If you feel sexy you ARE sexy.
After that original risqué photo, I posted 2-3 more. All of them were well received.
As a creator, I’m always looking for different content ideas. Personally, I like pushing the envelop when it comes to creating things because that’s what’s going up resonate with people, gain viewership, and attention which will lead to important conversations. As an Instagram blogger / advocate I have a duty to maximize awareness while being creative. As we all know, creativity is defined and perceived differently by each individual who comes in contact with the creative piece.
Lately, I’ve been off my blogger game as I’ve been working on other projects. That all changed when I was scrolling through my feed with greasy pizza fingers late one night when I saw Kim Kardashian’s photo. A light bulb in my head went off immediately. I had planned on doing another Kardashian look (I did a remake of Kylie Jenner’s wheelchair shoot during the summer) as my next post and this photo was perfect. Remaking this photo would be risky, but I decided to give it a go. I got my props, did my makeup, and boom, photo shoot time.
After viewing the photos, I was very happy with how they came out. I did some edits, and posted my photo alongside Kim Kardashian’s with this caption: When I saw @kimkardashian post this, I had to remake it. Disabled body representation and society’s normalized body representation right next to each other, both looking sexy. Let’s normalize disabled bodies & value them as they coexist with non-disabled bodies. Hopefully this picture will bring us one step closer 💙
To put it bluntly, my feed started blowing up. All the comments I had the chance to read were positive. Again, messages started rolling in. Shortly after posting, I received a notification that Instagram had deleted the photo due to it violating “nudity and pornography terms.”’ You can see the photo for yourself and see that I was not exposing ANY genitalia. I shared the news with my followers and the response was frustration and anger. My photo was the exact same photo as Kim’s. If anything, her’s was more risqué.
I was just as frustrated as my followers as I did work hard on this shoot and it seemed to be blatantly biased that my photo was deleted and hers was still up.
I began to realize this situation had bigger implications than my feelings being hurt. Social media censorship bias is real and is something I’m going to strive to change. What message is Instagram sending out by deleting a marginalized body and leaving a normalized body posted. People with all body types deserve the same right to post photos within Instagram’s terms.
Representing disabled bodies in a sexual or risqué outlet is SUCH an important tenant of disability advocacy and education. This type of representation will lead to fewer misconceptions about sex and disability, self confidence and disability, relationships and disability, etc. This important work should not be hindered by society’s beauty standard constraints that are affecting social media censorship. Everyone should be able to feel / look / share their sexy with the same conditions as anyone else using this platform.
I will keep pushing for equality and expose this issue by sharing photos like this. #loveyourgenes #lygmovement
For more posts about disability, body positivity, and life with SMA, check out my Instagram: wheelchair_rapunzel
source: WHEELCHAIRRAPUNZEL & CO