Let’s talk about identities
[Image description: “Let’s talk about narrow-mindedness around how different identities can be perceived,” on a yellow and grey background.]
There are 61 million disabled adults in the US, with a majority of them having “invisible” disabilities. That count is going to grow immensely throughout the pandemic. For many, visible signifiers come to mind when thinking about disability. Like a cane, wheelchair, hearing aid, or a service animal.
We tend to put people in boxes within a binary system and often struggle to see each other and ourselves as complex human beings.
Disability, much like other intersecting identities (such as queerness), is not always visible. This so-called invisibility can lead to feelings of shame and internalized isms, which can be tied to how the world perceives us.
We have to be mindful of not categorizing clients when we are just getting a snippet of their story. A stranger wouldn’t know I’m queer, trans, disabled, mentally ill, or neurodivergent, unless I disclosed those parts of myself. There’s immense privilege in my ability to mask these identities—a potentially life-saving privilege that many who are disabled and/or queer do not have.
I’ve heard folks in the wedding industry say that they’ve never had disabled and/or queer folks as clients. Perhaps you’ve never showcased someone visibly disabled in your portfolio, but you are working with disabled clients, whether or not you realize it. If folks haven’t shared that part of their identity, that may be because you’re not creating a safe enough space to foster these conversations.
Identities can be fluid. Someone you may have worked with this time last year who wasn’t disabled, may be now.
Harm can live in a grey area. Someone might have a portfolio rich with disabled representation, but their photo studio is located up a flight of stairs with no elevator. Someone being violent against the trans community might be a cis feminist with pronouns in their bio.
Representation in our feeds is crucial, but let’s not forget to have nuanced conversations around things like accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity just as much as we’re showcasing clients who break down barriers.