My mother’s legend has it that one of my first words was “magazine.” I can’t confirm this, but I do have vague memories of demanding an issue from the rack at the grocery store, eager to flip through its glossy pages.
As I grew older, I was just as excited to read the words inside those pages, devouring details of my favorite celebs’ personal lives like candy.
But every page that didn’t include an interview with one of my faves was a different story. As a wheelchair user with coordination limitations, I couldn’t try the latest eye shadow trend without first learning the tips and tricks to make application easier for me, a disabled woman. I couldn’t buy the designer dresses with zippers in the back or jeans with complicated buttons in the front; I need adaptive clothing options. And I didn’t just want advice for my first date—I needed someone who looked like me to tell the story of hers, so I could believe I would go on my own. Those stories didn’t exist then, but I held on to hope that one day, I would see a disabled woman on the cover of my favorite magazine, surrounded by headlines promising a whole book filled with content aimed at enriching my disabled life. I’m still holding on.
Since The Bold Type premiered in 2017, I’ve seen the show’s potential to increase disability representation in a way I never could have imagined growing up. The Freeform series follows the lives of women working at Scarlet, a fictional feminist women’s lifestyle magazine. Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee), and Sutton (Meghann Fahy) celebrate inclusivity and stand up for marginalized communities at work and in their personal lives. Including a character with a disability in this world would seamlessly contribute to authentic disability representation while also demonstrating to the publishing industry how to produce stories about disabled life in a meaningful, consistent way. When I heard that Tony winner Ali Stroker would be making an appearance on the show, I was ecstatic. Finally, The Bold Type representation I’d been dreaming of!