Like many fitness influencers, Juttima Chinnasri’s TikTok account is full of planking and press-ups, shiny new activewear, and cute motivational videos.
But there’s also a video of her learning to walk again. And a reel showing the three minutes it takes to clip her prosthetic legs into a rowing machine.
The Thailand-born Sydneysider lost both her legs and her fingers to a near-fatal case of meningococcal septicaemia five years ago, at the age of 28.
She began posting to share her recovery, and now has 140,000 TikTok followers and more than 30,000 Instagram fans.
‘We all want to feel like we belong’
“If I walk outside, I don’t see anyone like me. And I feel like you can sometimes feel alone. If I feel like this, I’m sure there’s someone else that feels the same way as me,” Juttima says.
“If someone is watching, they can see, ‘Oh, I’m not the only person with a prosthetic,’ or, ‘I’m not the only person using a wheelchair’.
“We all want to feel like we can connect to someone and feel like we belong to a community.”
She’s modelled for brands including Toyota, Ryderwear and Women’s Best, and strutted her stuff on the Australian Fashion Week catwalk.
But managing a modelling career along with her health, while juggling full-time work as a job skills trainer, has its challenges.
“One day, I can wake up and my legs are swollen, and then there you go; I can’t put in the prosthetic legs,” she says.
“Also, access-wise, if I go to the job, are they really accessible for me? So, there’s a lot of things I have to think about and have to have a conversation with the people that I’m working with.”
Juttima says she hopes her content will help other people with disability feel less alone. Source: SBS News
The push for inclusive advertising
In an industry known for selling airbrushed perfection, diversity is increasingly being seen as an opportunity to push creativity.
Laura Winson, who co-founded inclusive global talent agency Zebedee, says consumers are bored of stereotypical ideals of beauty.
“They don’t see those images anymore, they don’t grab them anymore, or they actively reject them.
“If you’re working in the space and you’re not thinking about it now, then you do risk being left behind.”
Juttima says she hopes her content makes other people with disability feel less alone. Source: Supplied
Social media may be leading the way. A 2020 post featuring British model Ellie Goldstein, who has Down syndrome, remains one of Gucci’s most-liked Instagram posts.
But advocates say the industry as a whole is far behind.
That’s something the Dylan Alcott Foundation wants to change with the Shift 20 campaign.
With the support of major brands such as Bonds, AAMI and Weet-Bix, the campaign aims to boost the representation of people with disabilities to 20 per cent – reflecting the proportion of Australians living with one.
Television viewers may see well-known commercials with a scene swapped to feature somebody with a disability.
Former Paralympic gold medallist and Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott says he is hoping to send a powerful message to advertisers.
“I’m a consumer just like you. I eat, I travel, I bank, I got insurance, I use ride share. We want to see ourselves represented like everybody else, just in normal ways, doing normal things.”
‘A lot of people don’t know what they’re doing’
It’s also big business. Inclusive advertising consultant Lisa Cox draws on lived experience after sustaining an acquired brain injury in her 20s.
She says the global spending power of people with disabilities is about $2.9 trillion, but some brands are still wary about inadvertently causing offence.
“People can be very, very quick to call out a brand or cancel a brand if they put a foot wrong.
“A lot of people don’t know what they are doing, and that’s okay. It’s okay to bring in consultants, people from the disability community.”
She says representing people with invisible disabilities, such as autism or multiple sclerosis, can be even more difficult. She points to a US commercial for Hershey’s chocolate featuring characters communicating in sign language, to show it can be done.
Inclusive advertising consultant Lisa Cox says the global spending power of people with disability is about $2.9 trillion. Source: SBS News
For Alcott, inclusivity throughout the creative process is key.
“We have people with invisible disabilities not only broadcasting on camera, but creating the advertisements with us behind the lens.
“It’s about listening to them, asking what they need, but also creating environments where they feel safe and can thrive.”
The Dylan Alcott Foundation is launching the Shift 20 Campaign on 18 September.