Trend Alert | Cripple Media

Izzy Hall

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.

Our latest US Youth Trends Report found that 73% of Gen Z would like to see better representation for disabled people in advertising. While some brands are making improvements – such as ASOS featuring a model with a hearing aid – there is a long way to go, and it’s especially important as more young people are disabled than you might expect. In fact, 13% of the 16-24s we surveyed identified themself as a disabled person.

One issue that can make disabled young people feel isolated is a lack of relatable media content. It was the realisation that most news stories and opinion pieces about disability were written by older, non-disabled adults that inspired Emily Flores to take this into her own hands in 2018. Aged just 15, she founded her own media company, Cripple Media, and began bringing together a community of young disabled people to share their experiences and comment on topical issues from their own perspective.

Visiting the Cripple Media website or Instagram, it’s immediately clear that they were created by Gen Z, from the cute, quirky branding to the content verticals, which include culture, identity and politics. The writers call out inaccurate and damaging media portrayals of disability, but they also spotlight great examples, such as TV series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay and the documentary Crip Camp. Their remit covers more than just disability: they also tackle other representation and inclusion-related topics, such as advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and raising awareness of mental health issues.

Supporting the disabled community shouldn’t be a tick box activity, and it shouldn’t stop at hiring disabled models or partnering with a relevant charity. Even more important than that is taking the time to understand the perspectives of disabled young people and what they really want from brands like yours.

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