Body positivity, inclusivity and being a boss babe. These are just a few of the mottos influencer and advocate Alex Dacy, also known as @Wheelchair_Rapunzel, promotes with her widely popular Instagram account, clothing line and blog.
People are increasingly beginning to recognize the importance of body positivity. However, something that is so often missing from the conversation and the body positive movement is the recognition and inclusion of people with disabilities. Thankfully, influencers like Dacy are here to change that.
The 25-year-old is not only a social media influencer and entrepreneur, but an advocate for people with disabilities, using her platform to spread mantras of self-love and the ever important message that ALL bodies are beautiful and worthy. Although she has only been active for a little over a year and a half, Dacy has already acquired over 75,000 followers on Instagram, skyrocketing from 21,000 in just a matter of months.
So, why exactly should you follow @Wheelchair_Rapunzel the second you’re done reading this article? If her fire Instagram photos, hilarious sense of humor and daily words of wisdom aren’t enough, then the ways in which she is making waves sure should be. Her success is, in part, due to her authenticity.
Alex Dacy is a breath of fresh air when it comes to social media today, priding herself on being real and providing her followers with real-life experiences. Through her candor when it comes to discussing living with a disability, as well as her commitment to educating and uplifting others, she has become a role model for both members of her community and countless others.
If you’re looking for an even more in-depth look into her life, you can find a showcase of her passion and talent for writing and advocacy on her blog, “Wheelchair Rapunzel.” Dacy lives with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a disease that falls under the umbrella of Muscular Dystrophy. Although there are varying types of SMA, the condition essentially affects the nerve cells in one’s spinal cord that are responsible for muscle contraction. On her blog, Dacy details some personal experiences and anecdotes living with SMA, but also covers important topics that people can relate to or be educated by. From recent posts like “Why I Don’t Want to Be Referred to as Special Needs” to articles discussing news and timely issues like why standing during the national anthem is not inclusive of all people, to interesting listicles like “5 Disabled LGBTQ Instagram Influencers,” Dacy covers a wide variety of content that everyone could do with reading. And don’t be fooled into thinking her wit is reserved for her Instagram captions. Her blog also showcases articles like the ever important “3 Reason Why Ranch is Better than Boys.”
Salad dressing aside, the main topic she focuses on with Wheelchair Rapunzel is that people with disabilities can and do feel sexy, and society needs to remove the judgmental stigma of that fact. As Dacy says, “It’s okay to be risque.” In a move to advocate for people with disabilities as well as a stand for inclusivity and representation of marginalized bodies, she began posting photos of herself in lingerie, and promoting her status as boss babe.
This was a giant step in the right direction for the body positivity movement, as disabled bodies are so often forgotten or overlooked. Recently, however, many of her photos have been taken down despite the fact that they do not go against Instagram’s guidelines on nudity. In fact, many able-bodied influencers have not been penalized despite the fact that they were showing just as much, if not more, than Dacy.
This sparks a discussion on inclusivity and, more specifically, double standards when it comes to what people do and do not deem appropriate. Why are some bodies deemed beautiful and others not? Why is the same anatomy deemed provocative and one not, simply due to the fact that one is someone with disabilities and the other an able-bodied person.
In a few Instagram posts, as well as a blog post titled “Dear Instagram, Stop Deleting My Disabled Body,” Dacy discusses how problematic Instagram’s double standards truly are and how it is a form of ableism in and of itself. She stated, “The thing is, it’s more than just a photo. It ties directly into a violation of my human rights by Instagram holding a double standard between whose bodies they will allow to be seen. I deserve the right for my body to be celebrated as much as anyone else on Instagram. I deserve to exist.”
Not only does Alex Dacy empower people through her online presence, writing and advocacy, she has also created a clothing line to help spread even more positivity. Under the name Wheelchair Rapunzel and Co., the Chicago-based entrepreneur has created t-shirts, sweats, jewelry, totes and stickers marked with powerful slogans of self-love and inclusion.
Wheelchair Rapunzel and Co. encourages people to wear advocacy on their sleeves. From her “Love Your Genes” collection to adorably designed tees featuring body positive mantras and witty slogans like “Are You Even Inclusive, Bro?” and “I’m Allergic to Ableism,” Dacy is bringing representation to a whole new level with clothes just about anyone should want to rep. Seriously, it is nearly impossible to go to her site and not end up with at least five items in your cart. Not to mention, she just announced that for the month of August she will be donating a portion of the proceeds to CureSMA for SMA Awareness month. So worth it, right? Maybe even add a sixth sticker just for good measure.
As Dacy stated on the topic of her “Love your genes” collection, “Our genes make us who we are from our eye color to our personalities to our sexual orientation. That’s why it’s vital that we love our genes for making us beautiful on the inside & out.” Between Wheelchair Rapunzel and Co. and her words and photos on her Instagram and blog, Dacy leaves each of her followers and supporters feeling more empowered and positive than they were before seeing her posts.
Thanks to influencers like Alex Dacy, we are moving more towards an inclusive, body positive society. One can only hope that more influencers follow suit and embrace the mantra, “It’s a beautiful day to be inclusive.”