This is me, Keala Settle Bearded lad, The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman song ‘This Is Me’ has empowered so many marginalised individuals and communities. 

20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman has no shortfall of characters and stars to play them. There is Hugh Jackman as PT Barnum, the man behind the big tent; Michelle Williams, who plays PT’s wife and powerful human Charity Barnum; Zac Efron as PT’s business partner Philip Carlyle.

Yet no one stole the show more than Keala Settle, the actor who played the bearded lady, Lettie Lutz. Her big moment in The Greatest Showman was her powerful, awe-inspiring performance of the song, ‘This Is Me’. 

The single was officially released in October 2017. To say that it became an instant hit would be a dramatic understatement. But that’s not referring to sales; rather, I am referring to something much more important.

‘This Is Me’ has had an indelible impact on various diverse backgrounds. That applies to a topic close to home for me: The disability community.

Growing up with a disability as complex as Cerebral Palsy, looking for role models or something to relate to like a simple song, was hard to come by. The internet was basically a small blip on the radar at the time. The biggest thing we had growing up in the ’90s was AOL’s AIM.

The outcry against bullying and just generally treating anyone with cruelty because they were different or expressed themselves differently was far softer than it is now. This speaks volumes as to how much society has regressed in the years prior to the arrival and growth of social media. For every negative thing, social media does, it brings about a positive one.

That’s why when ‘This Is Me’ came out I – like so many others – instantly gravitated to it and its message.

And the message is quite simple: I am who I am, and I am going to rise above all the ignorance and hate; you may choose to hate me because you refuse to understand who I am, but I am stronger than that and I am stronger than you.

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one will love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

 

This song (turned anthem) is proof that sometimes the simplest things can have the greatest impact on people. Being a woman with a complex disability like that of Spastic Hemiplegia Cerebral Palsy, it is hard to find things in the real world that speaks to me with a level of understanding, letting me and my wider disabled community know that society “gets it.”

Keala Settle singing 'This Is Me'
Keala Settle singing ‘This Is Me’. Source: Pinterest.

Music is one thing that can bring us all together. It doesn’t need harsh judgments or assumptions. It’s just about the music, and its message of unity in that moment.

For the disability community, having to overcome adversity is a continuous battle; we have been repeatedly told we are different to everyone else. Since the debut of both the film and its soundtrack, I have truly felt the rise of a growing movement, fighting against such negativity. I mean, just have a look at the comments on the YouTube video! It truly is awe-inspiring.

I would personally like to thank 20th Century Fox and everyone involved in The Greatest Showman – especially Keala Settle, for showing those who are different how to own their power and march onwards to the front of the line. Once you’re there, no one can ignore, dismiss, or push you into a corner. Everyone who is seen as “different” should be seen, heard, and valued. For the gifts and abilities, they have to give and share with this world.

I am the founder and writer of the blog, The Abler. As well as the social media manager of all of The Abler's social media. I am a writer for 13 publications on the side, 2 of which I do PR for. I am the host of the podcast, The Many Faces Of The Abled via, Anchor fm. I am also a published poet, and disability activist.