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Model Who Is Deaf Gives A Good Reason To Reconsider ‘Inspiration Porn’

People generally have good intentions sharing inspirational viral internet content that brought them a few moments of joy, even if they give little thought for how it might impact the people involved. Well, Nyle DiMarco has some thoughts about such “inspiration porn” ― specifically, videos showing babies who are deaf hearing for the first time. 

“The biggest problem is that it tends to glorify these simple solutions and it’s a view of just a few seconds of a disabled person’s life,” DiMarco, a star model who is deaf, told HuffPost. “It doesn’t show the story and hours required.”

Children with access to miraculous measures that restore hearing, he noted, are “often from very wealthy families who are very fortunate to have the money to be able to purchase the technology needed and the training and the hours and they’re able to invest that time.” But that’s not the reality for many children who are deaf, let alone Americans of all ages who are hard of hearing. 


Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

DiMarco, whose commentary about being deaf has become viral fodder itself for its humor, honesty and poignancy, hopes to instead glorify and encourage sign language education. Equipping children with the language from an early age is something he said sets them up for future success.  

More than 70 million deaf people worldwide use sign language, DiMarco pointed out, “but only 2 percent of them have access to education in sign languages.”

“Not only that,” he added, “but more than 75 percent of hearing parents to deaf children don’t sign with their child at home.” 

DiMarco, who grew up in an entirely deaf family and attended a school for the deaf, praises the benefits of learning and speaking sign language. “We had direct access to communication, to language and to love,” he said.


Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

It was only after he persuaded his mother to allow him to attend public school in fifth grade that he was deprived of ASL ― and began to feel he was missing out. The feeling affected his perceived self-worth, he said, and resurfaced when he joined the cast of “America’s Next Top Model” in 2015.

“They took our phones, we didn’t have any TV or any other technology,” he said. “It was just me and a group of other models that I was competing against in the house. I tried to teach them sign, but many of them weren’t willing to learn any, even simple things like the ABCs. Of course it impacted me every day, it impacted my self-worth.”

There even came a point when DiMarco, who went on to win the title of top model that season, thought about giving up. But part of his mission is to make people who are deaf more visible in media, which didn’t happen when he was growing up. “I wanted to take the opportunity working with “America’s Next Top Model to really pave a new road,” he said. 

With a sharp wit and fierce drive to create change and educate, the road is open wide for DiMarco.

Watch more of his interview with HuffPost above.


Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

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