Monday, March 21 marks the premiere of the 22nd season of "Dancing with the Stars" (DWTS). While this may just seem like another season for the popular dance competition, this year is different. One of the celebrity contestants is "America's Next Top Model'"s (ANTM) Cycle 22 winner: Nyle DiMarco. Nyle won the hearts of viewers because of his kindness, professionalism and beautiful, piercing blue eyes. He dominated all of Cycle 22 of ANTM and was the indisputable winner due to his work ethic, his ability to wow clients with his stunning photographs and his powerful runway walk.
However, it is not just his modeling talent that makes him so loved by millions of fans around the world. Nyle utilized his social media and his appearance on ANTM to promote platforms that are extremely important to him. Not only does he teach his followers about his sexual fluidity, but Nyle was also the first deaf contestant, and winner, of America's Next Top Model. He taught and continues to teach the world about deaf culture, proving that deafness is not something that should hold anyone back from pursuing their dreams, or doing a job well. As explained in The Washington Post, Nyle did not want to be classified as "the token deaf contestant" or "the pity party person," and by the end of the season he definitely broke out of both of these molds. Nyle DiMarco is a strong model, with a great heart. He just happens to be deaf.
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What makes Nyle so much more spectacular is that his desire to break out of the stereotypes listed above did not mean he had to deny his deafness. He took advantage of the air-time and his highly visible social media presence, and used them to promote deaf culture and the importance of learning American Sign Language (ASL).
On episode 13 of ANTM, the models were responsible for showing their business skills, prompting Nyle to introduce the world to the concept of "Sign That," an app that helps teach people how to sign. Although this idea did not win him the challenge (he lost to a tanktop-sock combination called Tocks), that was not the end of this idea. After that episode aired, Nyle took to twitter to announce his decision to join "The ASL App" to help teach ASL.
Not only does this mean that we all get the chance to learn sign language, but we also get to learn how to sign from a charismatic and stunning model. It is educational, edgy and easy to use -- so make sure to download it here, and start learning American Sign Language!
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After his success on ANTM, Dancing with the Stars announced the model's decision to join the cast for its 22nd season. Nyle and his partner Peta Murgatroyd decided their "hashtag" would be #RedefiningDance, hoping to inspire viewers with the message that "anything is possible." From the point of view of a member of the dance community, I believe this is a very necessary step for both the deaf community and the dance community to show the importance and universality of dance, and to prove that deafness is not a disease, but a difference in the human experience.
Nyle (the second deaf contestant on DWTS, after Marlee Matlin) and Peta are breaking barriers, helping even Nyle learn new lessons about his own abilities. Nyle stated for People, "I realized something new about myself. Even though I'm a deaf, I think that I should always stay that way [when I don't hear the music,] I dance well!"
To follow Nyle on this next exciting step of his journey, make sure to follow him on social media: Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, @nyledimarco on Snapchat. Also, make sure to download The ASL App, and watch Nyle and Peta perform in the season premiere of DWTS Monday, March 21, on ABC.
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