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Tilly using musical talent to tackle disability myths

Tilly using musical talent to tackle disability myths
15th December 2019 Ian Streets

A folk performer who has attracted acclaim across the country for her songs and her live shows has told the BBC how she is using her talent to tackle some of the issues around disability.

Tilly Moses, who comes from Suffolk and is based in York, voices her frustration about the prejudices which can kick in when people see someone who is young using mobility aids.

She said her fibromyalgia can leave her so tired she passes out. It also affects her cognitive function and she can be in a lot of pain, and she sometimes has to use a walking stick or a wheelchair.

Interviewed by Kate Scotter for BBC News, Tilly said: “When people see me, because I’m young and I’m performing, people assume you can’t be those things and be disabled.”

Tilly described one occasion when she had her walking stick and she sat on one of the disabled seats on a bus. She said a woman was talking loudly about her, saying she must have been faking it because her makeup was done so nicely.

Another time, she was at an airport and her boyfriend was pushing her in a wheelchair. She said he was messing around and pushed her quickly down a ramp, causing her to laugh because it was funny.

She added: “A man looked at me and was so perplexed. There’s a perception that my life must be tragic and why would I be laughing. My life is fine, I wouldn’t change anything.

“I’m happy but people find that really perplexing, as if being disabled is almost worse than being dead. I’ve got friends, family, a boyfriend, a career, my music. Sometimes I can’t get out of bed but that’s fine.”

Tilly told the BBC she hopes to use her platform to continue to talk positively about disability and to share people’s stories and ideas that “don’t get aired in a musical capacity”.

She said: “Disabled people aren’t represented in the media fairly; there’s a lot more to being disabled than what people think. It’s a societal issue; there’s this attitude that a disability is something to overcome.

“It’s as if we’re not full people and that we live such tragic lives that we wouldn’t think about makeup and dressing nicely. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; I was gobsmacked.”

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