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Victory Over Disability

By Kimberley Barreda
Inspiring and profound or a demeaning trope? Hint - it's the second one. There's far too much to disability to dismiss it with such a simplistic, shallow concept.
The victory pose is THE go-to thematic representation of disability in media. It's EVERYWHERE. The reason it's everywhere is because agencies and marketers who are not in the community love it. It gives non-disabled people a conscience-soothing image of freedom and "joie de vivre". It's a happy picture.

While there are completely valid editorial uses for images like these, in marketing they usually backfire for two main reasons.
First, the technical aspects of the image are everything disabled people avoid. Weird and dangerous places you can't get to, or away from, on your own. Have you ever tried to wheel yourself on sand in a fifty pound hospital wheelchair? If not, you should try it some time.

The other main reason is the entire concept is from an able-bodied person's idea of what disabled people are (or should be) about. That a disabled person's goal is to become not disabled, which is understandable on a personal, emotional level. Who wants to be disabled? For some disabled people, that's absolutely a goal especially if it's legitimately attainable. For those who can not achieve that goal, the main focus changes from overcoming the disability itself, to mitigating the challenges caused by the state of disability.

The image of the woman on the phone is a more complete concept of overcoming disability without hiding it. She's in a fitted, usable wheelchair. She's well dressed and groomed, and working in a modern, clean, bright, non-medical setting.

Kimberley Barreda

Kimberley is an award-winning writer, actor, model, disability lifestyle and business marketing specialist, helping businesses reach disabled consumers. Principal at Specialty Casting featuring international disabled talent. See more at Unlimbited

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