Finding Acceptance

Confidence and self-love can be challenging to maintain when you’re living with a disability. My disease, FOP, is progressive so I continuously have had to adapt to new physical limitations. I’ve struggled with body issues and many insecurities throughout my life. Before social media, I had a difficult time finding acceptance – in both society and within myself.

The Twitter hashtag #DisabledAndCute was recently created by a writer named Keah Brown as a sort of personal celebration of self-love. It quickly went viral* within the disability community and ended up becoming an empowering opportunity for others to share a bit of their lives with the world. I decided to participate in the trend and tweeted two photos, not expecting a huge response.

I looked through some of the other tweets after posting mine and was inspired by everyone’s courage. Some shared photos of themselves with simple captions, while others wrote about their disabilities. All of the tweets I saw were powerful, honest, and beautiful. I immediately felt so connected to them, even though I didn’t know anyone personally.

The world felt a little smaller, somehow safer, more inclusive. It felt like we were all one big family without even having any direct interaction with each other.

“The goal was simply to share a bit of her own journey of self-love and acceptance… But the reaction to her tweet was an outpouring of support and tons of responses.” (from an article about Keah’s #DisabledAndCute trend)

I woke up the next morning to see that my tweet had already been retweeted (shared) over 40 times with 150+ likes. By the end of the day, it had nearly 750 likes. A few days later, more than 950 likes and around 200 retweets. The amount of able-bodied allies showing their support for every single person’s tweet was truly amazing. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, especially on a platform like Twitter.

The Internet isn’t always the safest place for people who are different. There seems to always be those unable to empathize with what others may be going through. The #DisabledAndCute trend will hopefully continue to help more people see our individuality despite any of our disabilities.

The second photo I tweeted was of me with a fluffy Black Russian Terrier dog. We met him and his friendly owner while I was on vacation in San Diego, California last fall. I’m standing unposed, which isn’t my preferred stance, but it’s the most comfortable. My left hip has been in an FOP flare-up off and on for over five years. It has caused me so much stress and grief, especially when I’ve seen certain photos of myself. As a teenager, my natural stance and gait were harsh reminders of my reality. As an adult, I’m working on accepting that both of these things make me who I am.

I’ve loved seeing this hashtag trend grow so quickly overnight (and still going strong a week later). There’s been incredible media support, including BuzzFeed, Upworthy, and Mashable. I also discovered that PopSugar Beauty featured my tweet along with a few others for their write-up! Author Emily Orofino says that she hopes the popularity of #DisabledAndCute will “help prove… that the two terms are far from being mutually exclusive.”

Disabled and cute. Not disabled but cute or cute but disabled. I’m embracing that perspective more and more each day.

PopSugar article: click here
Link to my tweet: click here

 

*According to Dictionary.com: posts go viral when they “become popular by circulating quickly from person to person” and “spread rapidly via the Internet, email, or other media.”


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14 Comments on "Finding Acceptance"

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Tricia
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I just saw your story through the Washington Post. Thank you for sharing your story. As an Occupational Therapist I understand the adaptations that you have to make, but it helps to hear how you feel about your experiences. You are beautiful and have a beautiful spirit. Keep shining!

Jerry Anecelle
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Che Dio ti benedica! God bless you!

Cathryn
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You are amazing. I work for an organization called Christian Horizons, which allows me the honour of working with adults who have exceptional needs. I am continuously amazed and grateful for being able to do life with such incredible people. I really yearn for a world that is entirely inclusive. You’re courage and bravery with sharing your story, struggles and insights are such a gift. thank you for sharing!

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