People With Disabilities Deserve Representation

People With Disabilities Deserve Representation, Like Any Other Group Of People

Having a disability is not completely uncommon, however, movies and television make it seem as if anytime someone with a disability appears, it's the first thing that needs to be noticed.

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The film and movie industry took a fresh and powerful step in the right direction when it came to representing racial and gender equality. With movies like "Black Panther" and "Crazy Rich Asians" theaters were quickly packed with audiences who were waiting to see more of themselves on screen. For women, the "Me Too" movement stands for an empowering cause that is still being passionately fought for. Though I very much enjoyed watching these movies (I went to see "Crazy Rich Asians" in theaters twice), I kept thinking when it would be time for the same movement to open its arms to those with disabilities.

Having a disability is not completely uncommon, however, movies and television make it seem as if anytime someone with a disability appears, it's the first thing that needs to be noticed. Usually, the actor isn't playing just a main or side role, but someone with a very "inspiring" or "touching" backstory and conflict which unfolds throughout the plot. Such stories prove to be very emotional and dramatic, reigning in many awards for stellar and career-making performances, but why can't a person with a disability just be a person? More often than not, the characters in question are also played by able-bodied actors.

Most recently, the film, "The Upside" sees Bryan Cranston playing a quadriplegic. Other examples include Eddie Redmayne in "The Theory of Everything" and Sam Claflin in "Me Before You." There is no shortage of actors with disabilities wanting roles and inclusion, so why aren't they given the chance? Cranston explains that it's completely due to business. As an actor, he states that he called upon to play all types of people, so why would having a disability change that? And to that I ask, would an actor with a disability ever be called to play an able-bodied character? The answer is simple, no they wouldn't. It might be hard to look for an actor with a similar caliber of talent to Cranston, but that can't be known for sure if the effort isn't put in. Furthermore, even if the hypothetical disabled actor would not be able to act as well as Cranston, they would still be able to bring something that Cranston can't, experience and more importantly, authenticity.

Some say famous and known actors need to play such roles so that people will actually come to watch the movie for it to gain recognition. However, disabled or not, all actors need to start somewhere. If roles for disabled characters continue to be given to able-bodied actors without an open audition, how is one even supposed to try?

Personally, I can count the number of actors with disabilities in current or well-known roles with only the five fingers of one of my hands. Most famously, Peter Dinklage in "Game of Thrones," Micah Fowler in "Speechless," Meredith Eaton in "MacGyver," Millicent Simmonds in "A Quiet Place," and David Bower in "Four Weddings and a Funeral." Dinklage and Eaton both have dwarfism, Fowler has cerebral palsy, and both Simmonds and Bower are deaf. Simmonds and Bower both have movie roles, whereas Fowler is the only one with a main role in a television show. That is unbelievable. Of the five roles, I have only watched three so I feel apt to only comment on those. Fowler having cerebral palsy is important to the show and provides insight into the struggles of someone like him within high school and his family.

Though "Speechless" is a comedy and maintains a lighthearted atmosphere, for the most part, it still brings to light how milestones change when one is placed in different circumstances. Having Simmonds play the deaf daughter of a family trying to hide from monsters with a heightened sense of hearing brought an added conflict and suspense to the film. In the end, it was she who actually ended up saving her family (well most of her family) from the creatures. Lastly, Bower played the brother of Hugh Grant's lover boy in the romantic comedy and he didn't need to be deaf. Yet, having the character of David to be deaf really highlighted the relationship and understanding between him and Charles (Grant) and their communication only added jokes to the much-loved classic. I think there is a misunderstanding, especially in films and television, that having a disability needs to take something away from a person, when in reality, it adds depth, different experiences, and new perspectives.

Representation, or lack thereof, is a crucial contributor to how people are perceived in the real world, as well as the stereotypes associated with them. To this day, as an almost 20-year-old, I still get stares and pointing from children, which is fine. It makes sense and it's completely understandable. The problem lies in what happens after. When parents find their children doing that, they just tell them to stop such behavior without taking a minute to explain to their child that "Yes, people are different and you will come across all different types of people in school and beyond, but in the end, we're all just the same." Having a disability shouldn't be taboo and having more people with disabilities on screen would help to change that. If a complete stranger were to start a conversation with me on a bus or grocery store and started to ask how I drive or do certain activities, I would be most happy to oblige. But because it's not something we see very often, people inherently choose to and shy away from talking about it.

Another point which I didn't think would need to be mentioned until recently is that people with disabilities do not all look the same. It's a fairly simple concept, but I felt that I had to address it after I noticed that people on campus were mistaking me with another girl with dwarfism. As I have stated before, there are more than 30,000 people on campus so that increases the chance of coming across more than one person with any said condition. Now, this girl and I don't look anything at all alike. Besides for height and body structure, everything else is different. We have different skin tones, different hair color, etc. Initially, I thought the situation to be quite funny, but later on, I realized how problematic it actually was. It's pretty much the equivalent to saying all Asians look the same because of the shape of their eyes.

I'm waiting for inclusion towards disabled actors and for diversity in their roles. I want to see someone in a wheelchair pursue a completely able-bodied person as their love interest in a romantic comedy. I want to see deaf and blind characters play the charming best friend. I want to see a character with autism playing the lead in a crime show while solving murder mysteries. There are so many opportunities for the disabled community to be highlighted onscreen, and by not doing so, the audience is missing out on a lot of new talent. It's 2019 and it's about time the movement for representation extends to those with disabilities as well. It's about time disabilities are normalized and talked about.

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47 Things All Female Athletes Have Said

Yes, I know I am sweating a lot. No, I do not enjoy practices. Yes, I have said all 47 of these.
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Whether you're a collegiate athlete, or a high school one, you have probably found yourself saying most of these phrases. Us athletes know that the athlete life isn't for everyone, and we often find ourselves questioning if it's still for us. So, this is for all my fellow athletes.

All my fellow athletes who know the struggle is undoubtedly real, and who find themselves saying these 47 phrases almost as often as I do.

* * *

1. Do you have an extra hair tie?

2. What if we just said no? What if we just didn't run when the whistle is blown?

3. I, like, really, am not feeling practice today.

4. Do these pants make my quads look big?

5. Are you going to eat before or after practice?

6. I'm so sore.

7. Want to get McDonald's after practice?

8. Did you see that she wore makeup to a preseason practice?

9. I actually looked like a girl today.

10. I wonder what college would be like if I wasn't an athlete.

11. We're up before the sun way too often.

12. Is it gross if I don't shower after weights?

13. How hard do you think practice will be today?

14. Coach is literally crazy.

15. I ate like 20 minutes ago, so there's a 50% chance I puke during this practice.

16. I'm not going to drink the protein shake they gave us because it's going to make me gain weight.

17. I think my legs are bigger than his, so I can't date him.

18. I think my arms are bigger than his, so I can't date him.

19. Today in class a non-athlete was talking about how busy her schedule is. It was so annoying.

20. Thinking about preseason makes me want to cry.

21. Is it even healthy for us to have this many practices in one day?

22. I'll be right back, I'm having PGD (pre-game dumps).

23. I think I'm going to throw up.

24. I should have worked out more on my own.

25. How do other girls have the energy to put makeup on for class every day?

26. My legs are dead.

27. Why did we think being a college athlete was a good idea?

28. Do you think coach will be mad if I have to go pee?

29. I think I peed my pants a little bit during conditioning.

30. Should I wear my hair in a pony-tail, or in a bun?

31. I should probably start eating healthy soon.

32. Only six more practices until the weekend, we can do this.

33. I'd rather be sore for a week straight than climb into this ice bath.

34. They might have beat us, but at least we're still pretty.

35. I can't wait to celebrate our win this weekend.

36. How many hours of sleep did you get? I got 6, it was crazy, I feel so refreshed.

37. I look like such a boy right now.

38. Will you braid my hair?

39. That referee totally rigged the game. We should have won.

40. I think I'd hate being a reg (regular student).

41. It's OK if I eat this since we had conditioning this morning, right?

42. If you're not doing homework, get off the bus Wi-Fi, everybody.

43. These pants fit my legs perfectly but are huge on my waist.

44. I smell so bad right now that I can smell myself.

45. I bet my grades would be so much better if I wasn't an athlete.

46. Coach only gave us, like, one water break during practice. It was horrible.

47. I am so happy that I'm an athlete.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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I Used To Think Height Didn't Matter, But Maybe It Really Does

I've come to a conclusion

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I've had my fair share of boyfriends in the past. A common theme in my past choices of boys is that they were all an inch or two taller than me or the same height. Now, I am a little on the taller side considering that the average height for a woman in the US is 5 feet 4 inches tall. I'm not saying all the tall boys belong to all the tall girls and the shorter guys should stick with shorter girls, but I do think there might be something behind all this madness.

My reasoning for this is simple: I've been in an amazing relationship with someone who is fairly taller than me. Is this reason totally irrational and have no sort of concrete evidence for this argument? Yes, totally, but hear me out. All my other relationships haven't been this good or even had the potential to be this good. Is it a coincidence that they were all shorter? I think not!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with boys who are under 5'9''. There are some nice ones who probably don't talk to 5 other girls while you're dating, I just never happened to come across one back when I was in the game. I just find it interesting that I've been in a really healthy relationship for awhile now with someone who is over 6 feet tall.

Many amazing relationships have happened between all different types of people, no matter the height. It's just if you are having problems with boys who are under 6 feet, you may have some thinking to do.


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