Lisa Cox

Episode 5 August 06, 2020 00:24:14
Lisa Cox
Choice and Control
Lisa Cox

Aug 06 2020 | 00:24:14

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Show Notes

Lisa Cox is an award-winning writer, presenter and advocate for disability representation. 

Download the transcript for this episode

Lisa combines her background in marketing and business with her lived experience of disability to start conversations about how disability is seen in pop culture.  

We talk to Lisa about disability in the media, on the catwalk, in front of and behind the camera.  

You can find out more about Lisa's work and stay up to date with her writing, advocacy and appearances on her website.

You can follow Carol Taylor's inclusive fashion line on Facebook at MeQ Designs.

For more about Bus Stop Films' work with people with disability and other marginalised groups, check out their website.

And if you haven't seen Stella Young's iconic TED talk, watch it here.

If you have a story you think we should feature on Choice and Control, please contact our enquiries line on 1300 999 636, or email [email protected].

Please note due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, this episode was recorded by phone.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Hello, and welcome to choice and control a podcast, celebrating the contribution that people with disabilities make to our communities. In this series, we are talking all things, disability, social inclusion, and the national disability insurance game. Throughout this series, you will also be hearing some great practical advice for making the most of your NDA S plan from local people. Accessing the scheme. This podcast series is brought to you by the team at carers Queensland, NBIS local area coordination partner in the community. I'm your host Douglas Connor. Thank you for tuning in today. I'm lucky enough to be chatting with Lisa Cox. Lisa is a writer and a passionate advocate for improved representation of people with disability within the media. Laser is also the disability affairs officer and media diversity Australia. And today our talk with Lisa about her work, her passion for inclusive fashion and the importance of disability representation within Australia's mainstream media. Hello, Lisa, and welcome to choice and control. Speaker 0 00:01:03 Thank you very much for having me. Speaker 1 00:01:05 So firstly, Lisa just wanted to ask, um, as we're chatting today, as restrictions for the coronavirus are just starting to ease here in Queensland. How have you found the last couple of months in isolation? Speaker 0 00:01:16 Uh, to be honest, I've I really, really loved it because I don't know why I ended up <inaudible> the different reasons have enjoyed it. And the reason for that is because I've had my house been home with me and everyone has been making a much, a much more concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open and getting touch, um, whether that's resume call or something else and are written a little bit about this. Some of the disability community may relate. Um, and I've, I've certainly had these conversations with people that, uh, many of us have, have been an oscillation for years. So even though so many around the world, we're experiencing isolation, um, and not being able to access certain things, but for a period of time that were really, um, experiencing that for the first time for so many of us. That's, that's just our normal. Speaker 1 00:02:16 Yeah. That's a really interesting perspective, Lisa, you're a very strong advocate for increasing the visibility and representation of people with disability within the media. How did your passion for that topic begin? Speaker 0 00:02:28 Yeah. Great question. I don't know. I suppose the simple answer to that is that it's my, my background is I spent many years working in, I, um, went to university, got two degrees in business communications and media then moved to Melbourne where I worked in advertising agencies for several years with national in central brands. Then I acquired all of my disabilities at the age of 24. Um, so that was, that was fun. Um, spent, spent a year in hospital, you know, things happen. But after that, I suppose I've spent so many years making my clients, their brands, their products, and messages visible. I realized that I could apply those same principles and strategies to something that was kinda more important than the European cause or things I've paid advertising before, how I'm applying those same techniques, those spreadsheets to disability. And that's where the idea of, um, hashtag visibility for disability came about because I really unskilled the power, all, um, a visual, a visual image, or even just opening a conversation in the caption or something like that about disability and start to gaps in the way, um, things are being communicated about, about disability in the sector. Speaker 1 00:03:57 Very good and present. How are we commonly seeing people with disabilities represented on our screens? Speaker 0 00:04:04 Yeah, it's not great to be honest, I'm sorry. Festival. We're rarely seeing them at all. Um, I don't know the exact numbers, but it's, it's pretty damn like considering that disabled people make up, uh, roughly 20% of our population on hazard of guests, but it's maybe 1% on the screen. So the week we just don't see them at all. Um, secondly, we're perhaps not seeing them behind the scenes. So on a CV shot, for example, the writers, the producers, the cameraman, none of them have disabilities that, you know, may not have disabilities either. Um, but only do see them represented on screen. And when we do, we see them on the screen or on the, on the ad or something like that, um, there are misrepresentations and stereotypes coming in. So we might see, for example, the person with the disability being portrayed as the villain. Speaker 0 00:05:06 Um, an example of that would be in the James Bond films where the characters with facial deformities of evil God, or we might see them as the stupid guy, the battling idiot and buttered jokes. Um, and that can make something like Forrest Gump, for example, and the other representations or misrepresentations that we see, especially here in Australia on the super heroes, sorry, one end of the spectrum of the superheroes. And they'd be maybe the Paralympians who Oh, really bright people by the line, amazing stuff. Um, so if you're not a Paralympian and you potentially fall into other another category, which is someone to PT or, and an example of that is if you watch the voice, any of the seasons, really not just this one, but the minute someone with a disability comes onto the screen to the side music for dramatic effect. And that happens frequently, whether it's on the voice or, or something else, there are these really, really sad stories. And that's not to say that there aren't absolutely heartbreaking stories. You would just feel any set up. Um, I've certainly seen some of them, but that's certainly not the only way that the defendant with the lines. Speaker 1 00:06:35 And do you think that this lack of portrayal or this misrepresentation of people with disability on our screens, do you think that has an impact then on the way that people with disability are treated within Australian society? Speaker 0 00:06:48 So I didn't like the show psychology one Oh one or marketing. What I want to narrow that we use things like advertising and media to shape popular culture. And unfortunately the way to stability has been portrayed at the moment. Isn't doing a good job at shedding poppy, a coach. Um, I mentioned before that one of the stereotypes is around PT and seeing that they, and that time, unfortunately, one of the main, the main stereotypes that we see, and that would probably be why so many people look at me in my real check, the shops, don't grocery shop or say things like, Oh, I'm sorry for you. Poor thing. Yeah. Just feel sad for me. And part of me is frustrated boss. I know it's, it's not their fault in so many ways because it's what they've been said by the media and not part of the culture for years and years. So it's this ingrained habit. In many ways, Speaker 1 00:07:53 The lights tell a young is credited with coining the term inspiration porn, referring to a certain depiction of people with disability within the media. Can you explain what that term means and the impact that that term can have? Speaker 0 00:08:07 Yeah, she'll say fell out was wasn't. She really was. And if anyone hasn't seen her Ted talk about inspiration porn, just talk Stella young Ted talk, or Ellie young disability poem into a Google search and you'll find it, um, many people with disabilities, including myself, just sit there and nod our heads the whole way through. And, uh, her death was certainly a loss to the disabilities that she was a journalist as well. So understood both sides of the coin as, as I do. But disability point is really the objectification of people with a disability. Sorry. The extent was that she uses in her presentation would be say a, uh, an Andy Taylor or something. The stops are running rice, and he's been to robots around. And the, um, the headline beside that might play something like he's got no excuses. So what's yours by itself at psychiatry. Speaker 0 00:09:09 But when those sorts of messages are pasted, it sort of betrays people's abilities and superheroes and those sorts of things. And I suppose it becomes, becomes a problem as well. When were cooled inspirational just for getting out of bed as, as Stella put it in her home, in her great presentation out as someone with all sorts of this invisible disabilities, it is hard getting out of bed sometimes, but it's, again, this Sunday that it's just amazing for existing when that's that's all I'm really trying to do is, is just get on with the diet and live a normal life. But, um, I've often used the example that I've been going to the gym for years and year before my disability and off before my disability, not once did someone say you're amazing, good on you. You'll say brave, great to see you here. Um, but these days it's something I hear more frequently that thing, thanks such an inspiration, but all I'm doing is looking at my life. I'm going to the gym, just like everybody else. Speaker 1 00:10:21 Obviously the media can have a really big role then to play in increasing the visibility of people with a disability on our screens and within society. So from a practical standpoint, what would you like to see journalists and media outlets doing to improve the situation and then outside of the news cycle, what can be done in the world of advertising or on our film streams, for example? Speaker 0 00:10:43 Well, there is so much I couldn't be done. And speaking as someone who has, uh, what did in the sector, what, what can advertise <inaudible>, it's not rocket science, but I also wanna understand, um, from the point of view of the non-disabled content creative, which is how I spent this one, four years of my life. There's that kind of, and be a bit of fear around what to do, how to do it. Do I sign this and not a fan, et cetera, et cetera, but some, some really simple examples would be in a general six, seven, for example, using people with disabilities to talk about disability issues. So in the black lines, the fashion commentary recently, I've seen a lot, um, a lot of complaints, which is completely justified about four white people sitting on a panel discussing black lives matter and indigenous issues. And that's, that's really not on. Speaker 0 00:11:43 Um, but, but the same token, it's not uncommon to say a number of IOT journalists or well presented, discussing the Andreas and other disability issues. Um, I suppose apart from including people with disabilities, talking about disability issues, also, you know, why as you can use people without disabilities to talk about non-disability issues. And by that, I mean, there's far more to me than my disability and my wheelchair and my prosthetics and brain injury and things like that. Um, so if you do have a panel about something like climate change, fashion politics, the budget, whatever I bait, look at ways you can include people disabilities in, in those sorts of conversations as well, just to help normalize this, um, normalized representation. And so it's not such a, such a big deal for a person with disabilities to also have had an interest in, in things like fashion and politics and budget. Uh, another example in tone television would to be looking at it more holistically. I find that on main, not just putting people disabilities on the screen, but also looking at using them behind the scenes, as well as, as the cameraman, as the script writers, as it reduces and things like that. I know there's a company down in Sydney called doc films who, um, have people specialties producing the content, which is really great to say, Speaker 1 00:13:23 That's really cool. Some of the stuff they produce. Speaker 0 00:13:26 Yeah, no, it's, it's fantastic there that the camera operators and things like that. And I suppose when, when an issue does, if you do have a disabled person say talking about climate change, just talk to them about that. There's really no issue to bring the disability into it. Um, number of times I've been asked about maybe on a fashion or something like that. And suddenly it becomes a conversation about my wheelchair micro center. So my brain's remits it's really got nothing to do with it. But if you, I suppose, one, one good way to test is to say, if you wouldn't ask, enable what person, and if I wouldn't us, you about your two legs or your 2020 vision or something like that, then why, why ask a disabled person? Same sorts of question. Speaker 1 00:14:20 So you mentioned fashion there in your last comment, and it's obviously a massive passion for you. How has the Australian fashion industry stacking up in terms of diversity and the inclusion of people with disabilities? Speaker 0 00:14:32 Yeah. And that's a good question. Um, and one that's just embarrassing to answer, to be honest, they're surrounded passionate industry. It's kind of embarrassing. Um, disability has been featured on international fashion weeks, Milan Paris, um, New York, places like that for years and year that it's not such a big deal to see a wheelchair dog, Daniel, I should wake up somewhere with prosthetics or something like that. But Australian fashion week, um, in Sydney, as diverse as we like to think we are, we have still filed to one person with disabilities onto the catwalk, which is really disappointing because we might have 20% of the community. And I was upset before per month from this perspective, which is my background. We have consumers, I, as I've said before, I can't walk and I can shop, have a credit card. And it really makes no sense from an ethical and moral point of view, as well as from a distance perspective as well, people with visible disabilities, because they may be invisible disabilities like anxiety or depression or something that we just don't say. Speaker 0 00:15:48 Yeah. But the solution of visible disabilities is, is really, really important. Um, just to help normalize, normalize these differences. I suppose, when we, we see an accessible bathroom or accessible toilet, the shopping center that hasn't got 50 icons with every single imaginable disability, it's just one it's indicative of, of disability and things like that. Nathan greater inclusion. I was really proud last year to be one of the models at Mercedes Benz fashion festival here in Brisbane for the design and Carol Taylor, who's a quadriplegic designer. Um, that was, that was fantastic little bruise friend as, as much as where the younger youngest sister to places like Sydney and Melbourne, we are really coming ahead in a leaders when it comes to inclusive fashion. So brands like Christina Stevens that are also coming out of here as well. And it's, it's so exciting to see. Speaker 1 00:17:00 I was also gonna say Brisbane taking a bit of a lead in that space. Then if Sydney and Melbourne aren't going to do it, it's great that we are Speaker 0 00:17:08 Exactly right. Speaker 1 00:17:10 And diversity is seemingly becoming more and more of an important thing for organizations, brands and businesses. Do you think that in 2020 disability is still sometimes being left out of that diverse diversity equation? In many cases, Speaker 0 00:17:26 Definitely is. Um, and I've, I've written about this before and I spoke about it just, just before, as well that we see representation with so many other minorities, but disability is still the least palatable all of diversity. So the piece RA posts for example, was all about, um, this real push to get people of color and women on screens. And that's fantastic, by the way, I'm a proud feminist and wants to say plenty, more women on the strains and plenty more people of color, but there's never any discussion about, uh, the representation of stability and in the fashion industry, it's, it's very similar. I've been on a red carpet interviewing designers before, and each of the designers said to me prior to our conversation, Oh, we've got so much diversity. And I was almost excited. I couldn't wait to see the collections. As H came down the runway, it was oldest sign sign. Speaker 0 00:18:33 There are a few people of, of, um, color and a few who are maybe a larger size, but that was it. No disability again. So we're definitely being left out action conversations. Well, like to my last point, um, 20% of the population, that's a pretty big market share for his to just be ignoring. And yeah, representation is doesn't have to be rocket science and there are some really simple ways that, um, that people just believe this can be included. I, this is not sponsored, but jockey, jockey underwear recently approached me about just being, being one of the models in that campaign. And I flipped through the Instagram feed to make sure that I wasn't the, the only one, um, for, you know, token talking to 70%, I definitely wasn't, which was right to say, um, that's a full of all sorts of diverse bodies, including stability because, um, yeah, so often in the fashion space disabilities is the one that's left out, Speaker 1 00:19:46 Comparing Australia to internationally. Then are the countries moving faster in a direction of inclusion of people with disability in terms of fashion? Speaker 0 00:19:54 Yes they are. And, um, unfortunately places like the U S and the UK, or unfortunately, it's, it's great, but, uh, Australia ribs is still lagging behind. And, um, as I'm, as I mentioned before, wheelchairs and prosthetics and other visible differences have been commonplace, um, at the big international fashion shows for years needs, you know, Milan, um, Paris, places like that, but Australia is still, still resisting and still not representing. Um, what I think is, is the biggest minority, Speaker 1 00:20:34 Well, hopefully with people like yourself doing the work that you're doing that will continue to change and to improve Lisa, you received support through the national disability insurance scheme. If you need to tell me a little bit about how the support of that scheme helped you live a more full and independent life, Speaker 0 00:20:49 The Nuis or main personally has been, has been a game changer. It's been, um, yeah, I guess unfortunately we are heavy in that stories in the media, but, um, I have had several friends who have had similar experiences to me and have a lot of positive things to say about the NDI. It, um, so just, just one example of, of how I'm getting help these days. I used to take myself to the gym and do do certain things and sat next sizes. Now I'm not a physio. I'm not, I'm not trained in that area. I can talk about media and appetizers all day, but I'm not, I'm not much of a medical expert, but now I can get someone who's qualified to help me strengthen muscles. I need to strengthen Justin just what he can get up from the couch, really, really basic stuff to have that some granted my ability and greater freedom, essentially. So I know from an outsider's point of view, the ending will be about funding and things like that. But for me personally, it comes down to choice control and just having a greater quality of life. Speaker 1 00:22:11 That's awesome. I take it that you really missed the, the gym then over the last couple of months while it's been close, Speaker 0 00:22:17 I was sorry, miserable as my husband, I was cranky and miserable and yeah, Speaker 1 00:22:26 Well, they've just opened back up in Queensland, so hopefully, um, you can get back. Speaker 0 00:22:31 Uh, I'm definitely been back from 5:00 AM the first day it opened. Speaker 1 00:22:37 Well, Lisa, that's all I have to ask you today, but thank you so much for taking the time to have a chat with me. Speaker 0 00:22:42 Awesome. Thank you very much for letting me nerd out on media and disability and representation. It's really great. Speaker 1 00:22:55 A big thanks again to Lisa Cox for coming on and sharing her knowledge with us to learn more about Lisa or to read some of her work, which is regularly featured in major Australian and international mastheads and publications. Visit her website at Lisa Cox dot C O. Lisa has written some particularly awesome content and stories while in COVID-19 isolation, which are particularly worthy of a raid. Speaker 1 00:23:24 Thank you once again, for tuning into choice and control the carers Queensland podcast, learn information about carers Queensland and national disability insurance game, or the local area coordination program. Please connect with us [email protected] today. You or you can catch up with us on Facebook at facebook.com/carers Queensland indice. We hope this podcast can become a place for people with disability to share their experiences and their stories. So if you have a story that you think we should know about, please contact us via the carers Queensland inquiries line at one 300 triple nine, six three six, or via [email protected] until next time. Thanks for listening.

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