Today the charity Scope tweeted out some statistics that even I was surprised about: “1 in 5 of us in the UK is disabled”. Two days ago I was on the tube and got stopped by eight individual people telling me how great I was at presenting the weather on television. I didn’t present the weather, I’m not a weather presenter but Lucy Martin is on television and has one hand -as do I, so of course, we must be the same person? God forbid there were multiple people in the world with a disability.
I don’t blame the public, I blame the media, the fashion industry, Hollywood, advertising, anyone and everyone who has the power to decide who we see on billboards, in magazines, and on our screens. I mean you literally can’t blame the commuters assuming I must be Lucy Martin, because it’s so rare to see someone disabled on television that we’re brainwashed into thinking that being disabled is a rare thing. But as Scope says, 1 in 5 of us in the UK is disabled, that’s 14 million people. 14 million people that are being represented that morning by one girl on TV – now that’s a ridiculous statistic, there needs to be more.
This is why I believe in positive discrimination.
To make a natural change to such a huge industry we have to force it first, once it’s forced others will start to follow and eventually (hopefully) it will become the norm. I’m not just referring to disabled with this, this relates to women in STEM, Plus Size models (Men too please), people of color, sexualities, genders, differences in every shape and form, representing the world in front of the world. So yes, it feels awful sometimes being chosen to be in lets say, an advert to only to fulfill a diverse criteria, not necessarily because of my talent, but I don’t mind because I know that I’m creating a path that never used to exist, within a very narrow-minded industry and I’m determined for this path to become the norm in years to come.
I always state that I just want to be treated normally (not like a girl who has a disability), and so to some, the statement of myself believing in positive discrimination is incredibly ironic. But hopefully this post has cleared it up for you, and I’d love to know your thoughts on this matter.
Photos by Henry Mandeville