After Kylie Jenner caused a stir by posing in a wheelchair for a photo shoot, Erin Tatum decided to use the opportunity to spread an important message.
On Dec. 3, Tatum responded to Jenner’s controversial cover for Interview magazine by posting it on Tumblr alongside a photo of herself reenacting it. The 24-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, said she wanted to make the photo of Jenner "more authentic."
"I tried my best to create a more authentic version of Kylie Jenner’s Interview cover, given that I’m, you know, actually disabled and a real life wheelchair user," Tatum wrote in the post.
In an email to The Huffington Post, Tatum described her first reaction to the cover and pointed out the problem with celebrities mimicking people with disabilities and the message they send.
"I thought, 'I'm in a wheelchair every day, and as soon as Kylie Jenner does it, it's suddenly cool?!'" she said. "It's ridiculous that people with actual disabilities get no attention in the media, but as soon as a celebrity imitates, it's provocative and profound."
She said she decided to recreate the photo to make a point about using disabilities as mere fashion accessories.
"Disabled people aren't sitting in wheelchairs because we think that they're cool or because we think we'll get attention, we're using them because they are a fundamental aspect of our daily lives and the key to maintaining our freedom and quality of life," she said. "Also, it's worth noting that Kylie's photo is very sexualized, whereas real disabled women are desexualized specifically for being disabled."
Since being posted, Tatum’s post has been reblogged and liked more than 120,000 times. Other Tumblr users have also shared their takes on Jenner's photo, further emphasizing Tatum's crucial message about the representation of people with disabilities.
Tatum clarified that the motivation behind her post had nothing to do with "attacking" Jenner. She said she recognized the conversation around the cover and wanted to use the opportunity to highlight the need for the visibility of people with disabilities.
"I wanted to use the incident as a flashpoint to open a dialogue about why we don't see more people with disabilities in media and why able-bodied models, actors and other celebrities routinely appropriate our narratives for the sole purpose of shock value," she said. "People with disabilities deserve to be authentically represented. We deserve to speak for ourselves and be heard without constantly shouting over able-bodied people."
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