18 of the Most Inspiring Female Celebs of 2016

7. Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid is a commentator and comedian. She describes an experience in which she googled herself after an MSNBC appearance. Retelling the story, she says,

“I did what any egomaniacal actress would do — I googled myself. And I got the shock of a lifetime. The people on the clips weren’t saying what a great job I did; they weren’t commenting on how shiny my hair was. America was playing a game of ‘guess what’s wrong with her.’

“See, Keith Olbermann and I had never discussed my disability: We were talking about politics; cerebral palsy wasn’t the subject at hand, so we didn’t think we needed to address it. But apparently people are so not used to seeing disabled people onscreen talking about anything but disability that they decided it was okay to diagnose me. And they wrote things like, ‘Oh my god, that girl is wasted. Is she retarded? It looks like Botox gone wrong. Maybe it was an honor killing that they failed to finish.’ Or my favorite one, ‘Poor crooked mouth Gumby terrorist. We should pray for her.’

“And I had to make a decision. I had never been bullied in my life. I grew up surrounded by people who told me ‘Yes you can-can.’ I grew up surrounded by people who treated me as an equal, and here I was being called disgusting, being called a terrorist, having people threaten my life and threaten to assault me because I had the gall to be disabled and proud and go out on television and make no apology. In that moment, I decided I could never quit, because maybe if there were more positive images of disability on television, we would face less hate and fear in the real world.”

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