“Brain is finding it SO hard to imagine being loved in my chair,” says wheelchair user Emily, who is the Twitter user behind an incredible thread on disability and love.
Earlier this year, a brilliant viral Twitter thread exposed the realities of a night out in a wheelchair. It gave an under-represented perspective of a Big Night Out that most people are ignorant to, while giving comfort and support to those who felt “seen” in the thread. And this is what makes such online conversations go viral: the ability to both relate and educate.
Now, another Twitter thread started by a wheelchair user has gone viral, after she prompted a discussion around love and relationships.
“Hi. Weird request but fuck it,” wrote Emily Linka. “If you’re disabled and in a happy, loving relationship, would you mind sharing a photo of you and your partner with me? Bonus points for wheelchair users & LGBT folk”
She added: “Brain is finding it SO hard to imagine being loved in my chair.”
Within just a few days, the tweet garnered over 2,000 replies and 22,000 likes.
And it wasn’t just people in a wheelchair who answered, as people with mental and physical disabilities took the opportunity to share their own experiences.
Let’s take a look at a selection of some of the responses.
“Here’s me and my boyfriend at a little museum! We’re both autistic and he has seizures after getting brain damage, both trans n both happy!” shared one Twitter user.
“Me & my husband of 10 years [love heart emoji]. He has physical disability , I have mental illness. And you ARE lovable!” added another.
“I’m not in a wheelchair in this picture but HELLO I felt the same as you for so long but it does happen!! @SophieEdwardss,” wrote Emmerdale actor James Moore, alongside a photo of him kissing his girlfriend.
“Hi it’s not me you were asking for but my bf isn’t on Twitter. Almost a year together now and 6mo of that have been really gnarly after a surgery that left him in chronic pain. You absolutely deserve to be loved!! Sending good vibes to you,” contributed a woman on behalf of her boyfriend.
“I’m in a wheelchair, my bf isn’t and we love each other to bits. You are lovable, not ‘despite’ your disabilitie(s) but because of who you are. I promise,” shared a fifth person.
“To the right person, you using a wheelchair is not something that they have to overlook, it’s something that they are thankful is around to help you,” added another.
For far too long, the representation of women by both mainstream and social media has failed to reflect who we see in the mirror, and its impact on our mental health is worrying. Stylist’s Love Women initiative promises to change that. As well as the launch of our Body Politics series, we’ve partnered with Dove, whose latest project (in conjunction with photo library Getty Images) aims to increase the supply of diverse pictures of women – which we will be using going forward.
Our editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski has also made five pledges to Stylist readers:
We will ensure the women you see on our pages represent all women – inclusive of ethnicity, body shape, sexuality, age and disability. When we create content and ideas, we will ensure that all women are represented at the table. We commit to featuring one fashion or beauty photoshoot a month that uses real, diverse women.
We will ensure that we never sell an impossible dream. We believe in aspiration, but not in selling a lie. We will work with influencers, celebrities and other partners to encourage them to reveal their truths, too.
We will celebrate the so-called flaws of women to prove the normality in all of our bodies. We will run videos, photoshoots and honest accounts of our bodies and how they behave.
We will hold regular huddles with our advertisers and brand partners to challenge the way they portray and reflect women in their branding and advertising. We will call out and challenge brands, media and people who refuse to represent women with respect and truth. We will call on the government to support our goals.
Through insight and anecdote, we will teach everyone about the issues facing women, what needs to be done and how we can all work together to resolve this self-esteem crisis.
Find out more about Stylist’s Love Women initiative here.