8 Beauty Myths Debunked by Women With DisabilitiesApril 23, 2020
We’ve all heard our fair share of beauty myths. Misguided information, like shaving makes your hair grow back thicker (spoiler alert: it doesn’t) and putting toothpaste on your pimples to get rid of acne (seriously, who thinks of these things?) have been circulating for as long as we can remember. The beauty myths relating to people with disabilities are even more random and seriously misled. To help us debunk these ideas once and for all, we chatted with three women with differing disabilities, including Parkinson's disease, severe sight impairment and a limb difference, to share their truth.
Myth 1: People with disabilities have someone else do their makeup for them.
Reality: “Nope, I wish that was the case!” says writer, blogger and Youtuber, Emily Davison, who is also severely sight impaired. “My mum used to when I was young and couldn’t blend my foundation without looking like it was applied with a spade. But now I can do it myself.”
When we spoke to Kayla Maria G, model and dancer with a limb difference, she said that she’s experienced similar misconceptions. “At first I had family members paint my nails, but then it came to a point where they were too busy and would tell me, ‘later’. But I didn’t want it to be later, I wanted it to be now so I had to figure out a way to do that for myself.”
Myth 2: People with disabilities don’t care about how they look to others.
Reality: “Again no, many of us care about how we look to other people,” says Davidson. We too want to be presentable for many reasons — for ourselves but also for how we appear to society. We want to be included in society and we understand that looking good is part of that.”
Myth 3: People with disabilities can’t curl their own hair.
Reality: “Many of us can and do. There are plenty of curling tools on the market that make it safer to curl your hair without fear of burning ourselves. We just have to remember to turn them off before we leave the house like everyone else,” says Davidson.
Myth 4: You can’t be disabled and wear makeup.
Reality: “I still use makeup whenever I go out,” says Cheryl Vaughn, a fellow makeup lover with Parkinson's. “It makes me feel cute!” Kayla Maria G says, “I do my makeup like everyone else because even though I have a disability, I’m not any different. I’m a female who lives in New York City during the 21st century. I still like the same things everyone else does. Maybe I’ll do it a little differently but it doesn’t change the fact that I can still do it.”
Myth 5: Your relationship with beauty has to be defined in a certain way.
Reality: Not everyone who has a disability thinks about beauty as this big defining thing that has to be thought of any differently or more special than how others interact with beauty. In fact, Kayla Maria G explains that she’s never really had to think about how being limb different affects her relationship with beauty because it just came natural to her. “I know in general, how disabled people interact with beauty can hold an effect on society because you don’t see anyone like us when it comes to beauty. But that’s honestly not something that’s stopped me from continuing to experience beauty just like everyone else.” She continues, “in high school, when I first started diving into makeup, nail polish and all of that, I never really thought of it any different, which is really rare and fortunate about my situation. My view point isn’t the norm, but that should be changed.”
Myth 6: People with disabilities are brave and inspiring for wearing makeup.
Reality: “Why, because I put on lipstick?,” questions Kayla Maria G. “When people do this — highlight something that doesn’t need to be highlighted just because you have a disability — it’s just a lack of education. No one really talks about disabilities, so I just take that moment to educate.”
Myth 7: People with disabilities shouldn’t get discounted when receiving a beauty service.
Reality: If you have a disability, you should advocate for yourself. “This is a huge debate because it’s not the norm and it isn’t something that gets brought up often, but it should, says Kayla Maria G. As someone with a limb difference, she refers to manicures specifically and says it’s important to have the confidence to go into the nail salon and request 50% off because they’re doing half the work. There are different types of limb differences, but she stresses the importance of having the conversation and advocating whenever possible.
Myth 8: People with disabilities can’t or don’t feel confident.
Reality: “We are allowed to feel confident, beautiful and proud like everyone else” says Kayla Maria G. “Even though we don’t see it in the media, one day we probably will. But first it takes those steps of doing it and feeling it yourself and then being able to share it with others.”
Emily Davidson adds that even though the beauty industry and being disabled doesn’t always easily mix due to the lack of accessibility from products and stores, the community is large and loves to feel confident. “Disabled people love to feel good just like anyone else and sometimes we just need a little extra help from the beauty industry to do that.”