Social media can be a huge source of support for disabled people.
Many who struggle to get outside are able to make friends and meet others in similar situations who understand what life as a disabled person is like.
But being open about your disability online can come with problems.
Many disabled people say they get lots of requests from strangers for pictures of their feet.
Although many in the foot fetish community are respectful, some disabled people say that their inboxes are filled with these requests – and often they feel like people are expecting them to provide photos of their feet just because of their disability.
Emma, 24, from Christchurch, New Zealand, is known as @Graceful_glider on Instagram and says that she started getting requests for feet pictures as soon as she started posting pictures of herself in her wheelchair.
‘I get messages saying things like: “Hey sexy feet I’d love you to send me some pics,” “Send me some pics of those gorgeous feet” and “Seeing as your feet aren’t much use anymore want to make some money off pictures of them?”
‘I get messages a couple of times a month, more so now I have more followers.
‘It makes me feel weirded out. I don’t understand why they want pictures of my feet so I block and delete immediately.’
Viv*, who doesn’t want to use her name in case she attracts more people asking for messages, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
She started posting pictures of herself online as she wanted to show that disabled people can be fashionable.
As she started to gain followers, she found she was getting more requests from strangers.
About six months after starting her account, she got her first request for pictures of her feet.
She says: ‘I thought it was a joke maybe or just a weird one-off thing but there were soon more in my inbox.
‘It made me quite upset, like people were seeking me out and targeting me because of my disability.
‘Disabled people are sexy and wonderful but sexualising this part of us because we are disabled just doesn’t sit right with me.’
When Viv called these strangers out publicly, she says that she did receive some negative messages from people saying you should respect fetishes.
She adds: ‘Of course I don’t want anyone to feel ashamed for having certain sexual desires but I just think that preying on people and
‘Some people can be quite forceful and it’s really difficult. I don’t want to close off my messages because I have made so many friends through social media but sometimes I am tempted to because I get so many of these messages.’
Jennie Berry is a wheelchair user and runs the account @Wheelie_Good_Life, which she set up in 2018.
She says that it wasn’t long before she started getting messages from strangers asking for pictures of her feet.
She explains: ‘I think it was very early on that I started to get these messages! I’ve had so many that I can’t even remember.
‘At first, I used to just laugh it off and show my friends but after hundreds of messages, it gets monotonous and somewhat creepy.
‘Some messages just tell me how beautiful my feet/legs/toes are – others request pictures. One even screenshoted and zoomed in on all of my pictures of my feet that he could find.
‘Then there is the ‘foot fetish’ accounts who will take my pictures without prior consent and put them on their accounts for other ‘feet lovers’. A lot of it crosses over with the wheelchair and disabled aspect as a whole and runs alongside wheelchair devotees too.
‘It isn’t just feet pictures. In more extreme cases I’ve recently had someone contact who tried to persuade me to amputate my legs. Again this is some sort of fetish (either for amputates or body parts removal).
‘This was quite alarming as the way it was marketed was that amputation could give me a better way of life – and that the person behind the account was talking from personal experience.’
Jennie also says that strangers have gone through her followers to find other people they can message in the same way and she is uncomfortable with how these accounts prey on people in this way.
She adds: ‘The severity of these types of messages varies massively- but it’s definitely a weekly occurrence if not more!
‘I won’t lie, it infuriates me. It’s one thing having a fetish – (which I have no problem with) and another thing pushing that on unsuspecting vulnerable people.
‘It angers me that people use my pictures without my permission – but that’s just part of the parcel of placing images online.
‘It also angers me that devotees are judging me purely based upon what they deem to be my ‘struggles’ and ‘incapabilities’.
‘I as a disabled woman should not be subjected to this kind of behaviour and I will stand by that whenever I am challenged by a devotee.’
What’s the deal with Feet Week?
Feet Week is a week dedicated entirely to feet… as the name probably gives away.
We figured we could all do with something to occupy our minds during the pandemic – and what better topic than feet?
From 4 May to 10 May you can find articles on everything feet, from what it actually takes to be a foot model to what it’s like to be a pro toe wrestler.
You can read all our Feet Week content right here.
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