Simply Emma: Portrayal of disabled by the media has to change

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Are disabled people represented in the media?

It’s a question that comes up on a regular basis and one that I’m often asked, as it did recently, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it.

It has been proven that the media influences and plays a key role in our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours.

This is not surprising, especially in our modern culture, in which we are surrounded by TV and movies, internet, news, radio, social media and various forms of advertising. 

All of which can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Through these forms of media, we’re made to feel certain emotions and no matter how intentional, we are also made to believe what is and isn’t fashionable, beautiful and important and so on. 

Our modern culture also means that actors, singers, TV presenters, reality TV stars and models become celebrities that are looked up to and idolised.

But are they idolised for the right reasons?

Most of the time it’s for their looks and not so much on their actual talent or morals so often creating an unrealistic view of ‘‘real’’ people.  

Disability affects real people but it is still rarely represented in the media and, sadly, when it is, its old-fashioned views and attitudes that we aren’t like everyone else.

This sends out the wrong message to society and could have a damaging effect, especially on young disabled people who feel they don’t fit in because they don’t look like everyone else.

They don’t see people on TV, social media, in YouTube videos or movies who have a disability or look like them in a wheelchair or use a mobility aid.

This is why we need to see more disabled people in the media.

It’s clear that more needs to be done to improve the representation of disabled people in the media.

By doing this, not only would there be an improvement in attitudes towards disability but it would also give a true reflection of society rather than an unfair, misleading view.

Why can’t there be a wheelchair user or someone with a sight impairment presenting our favourite Saturday night TV shows?

Why can’t there be world-famous disabled pop singers and movie stars? 

Of course, there are many challenges breaking into these industries but it’s amazing to see progress being made in sport thanks to events like the Paralympics where disabled athletes are recognised and idolised for their outstanding talent.

But not all disabled people are Paralympians or want to be “superhuman”.

Hopefully one day it becomes second nature to see disabled people on TV or in the media and for it to be ‘‘normal’’.

Everyday people who happen to have a disability doing what ‘‘normal’’ people in the media have done for so many years.

Hopefully, that day is soon.