The hashtag was created in response to a tweet made four years ago by author Ken Jennings that said: “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.”
Annie commented on Ken’s tweet with the hashtag as well as the sentence: “Cry about it, babe” and a photo of herself wearing red lipstick and knee-high socks. Her photo and comment started a snowball effect, as other Twitter users with disabilities - including Australian para-athlete Robyn Lambird - shared their own photos.
Ken’s comment highlights society’s negative stance towards disability, as disabled people are too often branded as ugly, abnormal and sexless. Pitying an attractive person in a wheelchair is insulting for two main reasons: the first being that this suggests that being disabled ruins your beauty, whilst also implying that people in wheelchairs are not considered fully human.
What makes Ken’s comment worse is how he started it with the comparative “Nothing sadder”, as it imparts unwanted pity on disabled people and also suggests how having a disability is an inconvenience.
However, Annie’s hashtag is not the first to fight against the idea that disabled people are not attractive. #disabledandcute and #babewithamobilityaid are two other hashtags that have been trending, and Twitter users have used these as a platform to post beautiful images of themselves along with positive words of wisdom.
#hotpersoninawheelchair has been empowering many young women. Some said that using the hashtag gave them a confidence boost to showcase their beauty, always some felt self-conscious about posting a photo where they were in a wheelchair.
Whilst Ken’s comment is one that is narrow minded, offensive and should be forgotten quickly; the response to it has been incredible. Seeing disabled women showing off their gorgeous faces, bodies and personal style is where all our focus should be!
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