by Drew Dakessian
There have certainly been some well-known disabled women and femmes throughout history, and yet, for too long, they’ve been considered the exception, not the rule. Fortunately, the digital age has empowered women and femmes with disabilities to create content that positively contributes to our culture. Here are 16 disabled women and femme content creators you need to be following.
Aaron Rose Philip
Born with cerebral palsy, Aaron Rose Philip was the first Black trans woman to be signed to a major modeling agency. She’s been a cover girl for both V and Paper magazines; appeared in campaigns for brands including ASOS, Dove, H&M, and Sephora; and walked the runway for couture designers such as Moschino. Aaron’s Instagram showcases her modeling career and daily life as a fashionista.
Alyssa Higgins’ spinal cord was injured at birth, and for a long time, the feedback she got from medical professionals and others was that she’d be unable to give birth herself. But when she and her husband learned that they would be able to conceive – Alyssa started chronicling her journey as a pregnant woman in a wheelchair. When her son was born last year, she shifted the theme of her Instagram slightly to illustrate her experience as a mom.
- Facebook: facebook.com/wheellifeinthewheelworld
- Instagram: @wheel.life.in.the.wheel.world
- TikTok: @wheel.life.wheel.world
As an infant, Angel Giuffria, who was born without her left arm, became the youngest person in the world to be outfitted with a myoelectric prosthesis, which allows her to use the existing muscles in her body to move the prosthetic arm. As an adult, the self-proclaimed Bionic Actress is taking Hollywood by storm, appearing in television shows Chicago Med and FBI Most Wanted and films such as The Accountant. She uses her influencer status on Instagram and elsewhere to promote the creator of her prosthesis, Army Dynamics.
What is life like when you spend the first two decades of your life not knowing what your disability is? Annie Segarra can tell you. Diagnosed in her twenties with the inherited disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Annie is an activist extraordinaire, changing the conversation about disability, queerness, and their intersection.
- Facebook: facebook.com/Ann.E.Segarra
- Instagram: @annieelainey
- TikTok: @annieelainey
- Twitter: @annieelainey
Not only is Chelsea Hill the CEO and founder of the Rollettes, an L.A.-based wheelchair dance team, but she’s also the author of a young adult novel, Push Girl (2014), based on her own experience. Recently, Chelsea has been making her mark on Instagram, with 185k followers enjoying shots and clips of her with her friends and family – plus a healthy dose of dancing!
Disability rights advocate Imani Barbarin uses her online platform Crutches and Spice, which consists of an Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, as well as a blog, to elaborate on her perspective as a disabled Black woman with cerebral palsy and disability topics overall.
Isabel Mavrides-Calderón, at just 17 years old, is probably one of the youngest and definitely one of the best disability justice educator-historians creating social content today. Through the lens of her personal experience living with a spinal injury, she uses her platforms to share insight into important topics, including invisible disability and the Ugly Laws.
Lindsay Adams has harnessed the canvas of social media to share the content she has created on actual canvases as a painter. She also uses her social platforms to share her insights into life as a woman with cerebral palsy. Her Instagram bio – “We’re going to stop ignoring disabilities. Cool?” – says it all.
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer was diagnosed with the nervous system disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at age 14 and used a wheelchair by 19. The budding actress played Jocelyn in the HBOMax series The Sex Lives of College Girls, recently renewed for a second season. On social media, Lolo is known as a “disability lifestyle influencer,” sharing behind-the-scenes shots of her acting work and hosting a podcast, “Sitting Pretty.”
Lucy Edwards has made it her mission to teach the world how she thrives as a regular person who happens to be blind in TikTok videos with titles such as “How does a blind girl use an escalator?” and “How does a blind girl do her own makeup,” and an Instagram with the tagline “Blind not broken.”
- Facebook: facebook.com/lucyedwardsofficial
- Instagram: @lucyedwardsofficial
- TikTok: @lucyedwards
- Twitter: @lucyedwards
Madeline Stuart is no stranger to the spotlight. When she was in her early teens, she changed the fashion world as the first supermodel with Down syndrome. At 25, Madeline’s modeling career is still going strong, and she’s been using various social media to offer an inside look at her life – as a model and as a disabled woman.
- Facebook: facebook.com/madelinesmodelling
- Instagram: @madelinesmodeling_
- TikTok: @madelinestuartmodel
- Twitter: @Madeline_Stuart
In Paula Carozzo’s Instagram bio, she refers to herself as a truth-seeker, storyteller, and activist who is “changing the perception of disability one cane at a time.” This influencer on the rise, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in childhood, has filled her Instagram with selfies of her with her cane; her TikTok with “me when I…” themed clips about disability stereotypes, and her Twitter with tweets on all things disability justice.
Samantha “Sam” Dwyer has Friedreich’s ataxia, a genetic disease that causes difficulty walking and a loss of speech over time. The Brisbane, Australia model documents her life as a 20-something who uses a wheelchair on social media – specifically, Instagram and TikTok -, from shots of her modeling work to clips of her learning to rock-climb.
Sophie Bradbury-Cox has spinal muscular atrophy and she uses her Instagram profile to show off her latest outfits. Sophie, who uses a wheelchair, launched her platform to show how easy it is to suffuse your life with fashion and color regardless of mobility.
Tiffany Yu is a content creator and entrepreneur who became disabled after a car accident caused her to develop a permanent nervous system injury known as brachial plexus injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Her two-pronged Instagram bio is evocative of her mission to increase disability representation. She states on her Instagram that she is: “exploring what it means to be disabled (and) live well” and “being the representation I couldn’t find.”
Nakia Smith (whose sign name is Charmay) is a Black, Deaf content creator who rose to popularity by creating TikTok videos educating the public on Black American Sign Language. In her social media profiles, she proudly proclaims herself to be an “Independent BLACK DEAF WOMAN” whose “hands are loud enough!” Her viral TikTok videos have introduced Black American Sign Language to a new generation of young people.
“The difference between BASL and ASL is that BASL got seasoning,” she told The New York Times.
Drew Dakessian is a Freelance Writer for WID