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10th March 2017

#DisabledAndCute – the inspiring hashtag that’s winning hearts and changing minds

Keah Brown is disabled. And cute. She tells This Is Medtech how her social media campaign to improve the portrayal of people with disabilities went viral.  

It all started with a tweet. Keah, a journalist and writer with almost 50,000 Twitter followers, has cerebral palsy. She decided to post an empowering message for people with disability, creating the hashtag #DisabledAndCute. What happened next was mind-blowing!

That first tweet was ‘liked’ more than a thousand times. Then others started to use the hashtag, sparking tens of thousands of retweets. The campaign developed a life of its own, reaching millions of social media users

Other people with cerebral palsy embraced the hashtag but so too did thousands of individuals with other disabilities. Teenagers, adults and even parents of #disabledandcute children joined the conversation.

The media quickly latched onto the campaign, with mega websites such as Buzzfeed and Huffington Post heaping praise of the initiative. Soon the word had spread around the world and was even making headlines in French media.

We caught up with Keah to ask her what inspired the hashtag and why it captured the public’s imagination.

“I was the inspiration,” she explains. “I spent a really long time not loving myself and then I woke up one day and realized that I had loved myself since the end of December for the first time. I wanted to commemorate and celebrate that fact.”

“I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response and a ton of media attention from well-known outlets, as well as a few beauty magazines, which is really nice,” Keah says. “I am excited because a lot of these media are outlets that I’ve been a fan of for a long time. The fact that they’re sharing the hashtag and my story is amazing.”

Keah says she loves the diverse voices attracted by the hashtag but is especially fond of those that she can most easily relate to. “As a black woman with cerebral palsy I have a soft spot for the posts of other black women with cerebral palsy but I really love them all,” she says. “I think that it’s very cool that people are using something that I created to tell their own stories and share everyone else’s.”

The hashtag continues to attract attention and has made Keah a social media star. So, what now?

“I do hope that it becomes a campaign or a go-to hashtag that people continue to use even when the popularity dies down,” she says. “My hope is that it helps to shift the representation of disability in mainstream media. I hope that it shows able-bodied people that we are much more than we are often given credit for.”

Keah says she hopes the buzz created by the campaign opens doors for people like herself.

“I have big dreams: I want to make movies and TV shows and write a few books. I want to be on covers of magazines too. I hope, in many ways, that it helps us all get a little bit closer to achieving our dreams.”

Picture: http://keahbrown.weebly.com/about.html