I shared a little bit about this on Instagram over the weekend, but I wanted to expand on it a little bit more beyond the space allowed in an Instagram caption! I got a haircut over the weekend (my first one since February 2020!) and felt like a whole new woman, basically. It just felt like I was shedding not only a lot of physical weight, but emotional weight, too – it felt like a leap towards normalcy.

It also made me think about how, for many people, a haircut wasn’t that big of a deal – it wasn’t something that they’d been avoiding during the pandemic. But for me (and many other disabled people), it wasn’t a risk I felt comfortable taking until I was vaccinated. So while I was walking around downtown in my post-haircut bliss, I decided: I want this summer to be Disabled Girl Summer.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of “Hot Girl Summer” by now, and Carly accurately coined “Shot Girl Summer” (which I love), but I want this to be the summer that celebrates people with disabilities. We’ve had to deal with so much over the past year – extra stress, and fear, and precautions – and while the pandemic isn’t over, it feels like there’s hope on the horizon as vaccination numbers begin to climb.

One of my Insta-friends, Eliz (follow her!) shared a story about using a beach wheelchair recently, and how everyone on the beach was pointing at her and staring. She noted that because of all the extra precautions disabled people have been forced to take over the last year plus, society has gotten used to not seeing us around anymore.

I hadn’t even thought about it that way – that we’ve been so physically hidden, and that people have allowed themselves to forget that disabled people are people, too. So I want to take that narrative and flip it. I want this to be the summer of disabled people living out loud and proud. Of living fully, of not apologizing for our access needs, and not feeling bad for taking up extra space. To me, that’s what #DisabledGirlSummer is – the summer of acceptance.

Acceptance can be HARD as a disabled woman. I think I come across very comfortable with the label of disabled, and I am. But it took me a long time to get to the place that I’m at right now! It took years for me to be comfortable with owning my disability, and with everything that come along with being disabled. Things like needing to ask for help, taking up extra room when I’m sitting at a table or in line somewhere, strangers staring in the street – there’s a lot of baggage. It took me a lot of time to get used to existing in the public eye as a disabled woman, and to be not only accepting of but confident in my own skin. And of course, it’s still a work in progress. It can be difficult when you accept yourself but society doesn’t!

So when I think about #DisabledGirlSummer, I want this summer to be the summer where we accept ourselves, and where we encourage other people to accept us, too. Who’s in?! Use the hashtag and tag me on social media (here’s my Instagram, and here’s my Twitter) to share stories of how you’re celebrating #DisabledGirlSummer, and I’ll re-post them!

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