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#DisabledAndCute Hashtag Goes Viral: But The Pictures Say Everything

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Yahoo.com

Just one tweet sparked fellow disabled people to share their stories with millions.

Keah Brown's a 25-year-old journalist with cerebral palsy. One day she was feeling extra cute and she decided to share that feeling with her followers. She didn’t expect this simple tweet featuring four pictures of herself to start an empowering movement, but it touched a nerve and took off.

Her message sparked a trending hashtag, with disabled people sharing their stories with millions across the platform.

In Brown’s original tweet, she posted the images alongside the caption, “I want to shoutout my Disabled brothers, sisters, & non-binary folks! W/ #DisabledAndCute.” She also urged her followers to do the same. “Share your favorite pictures too using #DisabledAndCute :),” she wrote in a follow-up message.

Her message sparked a trending hashtag, with disabled people sharing their stories with millions across the platform.

Brown’s idea for the tweet stemmed from a feeling she developed late last year. “At the end of 2016, I woke up, and I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I looked terrible. I did. But I looked in the mirror, and I thought, ‘Wow, you’re kind of cute.’ It was a passing thought,” she told Yahoo Beauty. “Then I got to February 11, which is the day before I actually posted the hashtag, and I thought, ‘Oh, that feeling never faded’ — that feeling of being cute, of finding yourself attractive — so I thought maybe I should celebrate it.”

Although the movement spread quickly, her intention was simple. “I put the pictures up and made the tweet just to celebrate myself and hopefully have a couple of people join in in celebrating themselves and their bodies,” she said.

Brown believes that those who are disabled are stigmatized in society and often made to feel that there is something wrong with them.

“I think in the culture as a whole, there’s the idea that disabled people are unlovable in a romantic way. We are only ever pitied or mocked. We don’t get the sort of treatment that a lot of able-bodied people do. We’re presumed to be unattractive and broken,” she said. “I internalize that a lot because I didn’t know very many people with disability growing up. So I think when you don’t see yourself, you tend to internalize that and believe that there’s something wrong with you even though there really isn’t.”

Surprisingly, some Twitter users took issue with the fact that she used the word ‘cute’ in her tweet.

Brown acknowledged that she understood their perspective but disagreed. “For me I wanted to reclaim the word ‘cute.’ I think it’s OK when we call ourselves cute. It’s just that we need to be vigilant in the way we tell able-bodied people not to treat us like we’re cute or adorable — in a negative way.”

From this moment, Brown hopes that she helped to educate able-bodied people on the normality of disabled people’s lives.

“I hope they see this as proof that we don’t need pity or mocking. All we need is support,” she said. “I hope that this starts a conversation about the representation of people with disabilities in mainstream media and helps change the way that we’re perceived.” She also hopes disabled folks will find the hashtag “empowering.”

h/t | Yahoo.com

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