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Honest Post About Movie “Me Before You” By Someone Paralyzed, Happy And In Love

There’s different ways you can look at the movie (I have not seen it yet, but I know how it ends, I’ve seen the trailer and what different critics are saying about it). Unfortunately, one of the main characters, the guy who becomes paralyzed in the movie commits suicide, even though I was told “he changes his partner’s life profoundly and impacts her positively in their journey.” That is something I respect. I also know not everyone who sustains a spinal cord injury or faces a traumatic life changing event can overcome it and commits suicide. That is a reality for some people and a very sad one; a cause we should all care about as society and that we must fight to prevent because every single life matters. My main purpose with sharing my thoughts on this, is NOT to bash this particular movie. I am actually reading the book and will probably laugh, cry and more while reading it and will be going to watch this movie with my fiance. My goal is to inspire change, for us to move forward.

Although for many of us who have been injured and paralyzed, our lives have changed completely, I can honestly say for myself, I never considered suicide because I was now going to have to live life in a wheelchair! See every story is different. I was paralyzed in a freaky car accident, and let’s just say that I was very lucky to survive. I wanted to be grateful towards life, regardless because my boyfriend at the time didn’t survive… But I will always be grateful because he saved my life. My biggest loss? Losing a loved one, not the ability to walk. But I gained my drive from realizing how lucky I was to be here. No, it wasn’t easy specially at first, but I’ve moved on and all of you who know or follow me, know how hard I fight to live a happy life, and to even more, inject positivity and gratefulness into other people! And I can also honestly say that even though living with a disability can be challenging and at times bring depression to some people, like any other human being at a low point, I can also say that so many of the people I have encountered who live life in a wheelchair or with a disability are so amazing and BEYOND POSITIVE, and more positive than a lot of people who seem to have “full abilities” ;) . Seriously!

So also understand our side when many of us fight arduously to get ahead, to accomplish our dreams and goals, to despite any challenges we may live with, we choose to live a HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE LIFE with a DISABILITY. Take Christopher Reeves, a high level quadriplegic too, as an example and everything he did, his legacy… And then we see things like this, that can say, “if you are severely disabled you’re better off dead” or “if you’re severely disabled life will not be happy”… this in a way feels like a slap in the face to many of us!

However, also being objective, it is a movie, one more plot, one more love story, and certainly full of drama. Suicide IS a reality for many people sadly, disabled or not and every single life IS WORTH LIVING! But this is a conversation at least that SHOULD BE HAPPENING and what I honestly hope is simply that more ACTUAL POSITIVE STORIES OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH A DISABILITY ARE PORTRAYED IN HOLLYWOOD OR ON THE BIG SCREEN because we need those stories to be heard to break negative stereotypes and perceptions!! Because as a community, the disability community, we have progressed so much and we want Hollywood, and people at large ultimately, to catch up to speed and see this!!! BUT NOT JUST FOR US AS THE DISABLED COMMUNITY, BUT BECAUSE OF THE MESSAGE IT’S SENDING TO THE MASSES, TO SOCIETY!!

*PLEASE IMAGINE THIS, watching this movie, how it touches you and makes you cry, it makes you sad and what would you think after? Some might think  “that would stuck if that was me” The person in the wheelchair… Because you see how bad it is, what a “miserable” or sad life that could be… But wait, imagine, what if that really then became YOU? What if you became a quadriplegic after watching this movie?! It’s very possible, at anytime that can happen to ANYONE. Think of what this movie is saying, the message and how powerful it can be! Wouldn’t you want to see a beautiful love story where yes someone had a disability, but still found Love and made the best of his or her life as his or her partner’s too?!?!

Like if you agree and feel free to share this!

● I just want to end this by sharing an inside Story, and a very personal one to me, my love story! My fiance and I reunited years later after meeting in high school. It was the worst time in both of our heads to be in a relationship, it’s the last thing we thought about, we didn’t want to get in a relationship… But what is meant to be, is meant to be and this love story happened in God’s time. :) We never dated in high school, but Chris, my fiance, remembers having a big crush on me as he sat behind me in math class. Years later we reunited and I was now single, and in a wheelchair. Prior to that, he had struggled with finding love, just at a low point, in different ways… he wanted to believe in God and that he had good things in store for him…but wondered if God would have something positive for him… he was broken and after getting together with me, even though my life isn’t easy, I am grateful for everything that I have and he says I am like “his angel and that his life has really changed for him in a positive way and in a profound way, because of me.” His faith in God has been completely renewed in part because of my faith in God and what I’ve shared with him. He has seen how great God is and how his life has changed as he continues to believe in him. And we got engaged! He proposed to me on TV (“Que Noche” Telemundo) and we are making the best of life, together! As I say, “he walks and I roll, but always together. No matter what, we roll proud and strong. And we thank God for bringing us together.” ♡

True Love - Tamara & Chris - Engagement Photos

True Love – Tamara & Chris – Engagement Photos

 

The fact that my fiancé sees me as “his angel” and says that his life is better now because I’m in it is so touching and beautiful… (it makes me tear up thinking about it) and yes I happen to have a disability. But that’s not what makes me who I am. As a matter of fact, the things he liked about me when we were young and 16 are still things he loves about me now. It’s still me, I just roll on two wheels and became a somewhat better version of myself. And I feel that way because I’m actually stronger after facing my car accident. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not gone through everything I’ve faced. After acquiring a disability and overcoming adversity, I consider myself a better person all around and feel blessed that I can be a blessing to him too and his family. :) I’m so happy to share these recent photos that mean the world to me, our engagement photos by photographer Jeff Bradshaw. Our love is a blessing!!

 

☆ Can you imagine if Hollywood, if more #producers, #writers the #filmindustry were open to sharing a story that looks more like this? This is only one example of many positive love stories of people living with paralysis or disability, moving on in life happily and finding love. That would be a step in the right direction and clearly we are not there yet. But with a post like this, with us sharing our real positive stories, living with a disability, I hope we get closer! It’s time to move forward!

THIS is a conversation that NEEDS TO BE HAPPENING, so I’m a glad this movie gives us the chance to do so! (See, that’s the forever optimist in me :) ). I love romantic movies and want to see this as a romance/drama movie, but it is important to evaluate its message and for people to think about all of this, to be aware, to not let stories like this that are getting so much attention, affect the way they may see life for someone living with a disability. I’m not bashing the movie. I couldn’t just not share this, because not everyone who lives with a disability sees life in a wheelchair negatively, so much to end it…  And I just hope this can impact someone positively because every life matters.

IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH A DISABILITY OR JUST ACQUIRED ONE AND HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT GIVING UP ON LIFE, PLEASE DON’T! THERE IS SO MUCH YOU CAN STILL DO! I have seriously done more IN MY WHEELCHAIR than I would’ve thought before my accident. Please ask for help if you’ve considered suicide. As far as love? We all experience heartache, and it doesn’t matter your gender, race, abilities, etc. BUT NEVER GIVE UP ON LIFE OR ON LOVE. I promise you will find the right person. Sometimes you have to go through heartache or a long journey before you find that special one, but that journey, prepares you and leads you to the one for you. Don’t give up the hope, keep believing! Blessings

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CHECK OUT all the GREAT Interviews on Adaptive Athletes For American Latino TV Show!

People know I want to keep growing as a host, not just do beauty and fashion alone. So I was approached by one of the producers at LATV who said that I was their “inspiration” to do their annual athlete one hour special, but this time they wanted to highlight adaptive athletes, for the first time! They wanted me to host and be the “connective tissue to all these stories” which is an honor to me because I admire all of them! I’m so excited to share all these powerful interviews! All of the athletes are beyond inspiring, so you don’t want to miss any of the interviews, which is why I wanted to share all these together! All these interviews, were part of a one hour special that aired on American Latino TV. :)

To the athletes (and their families), thank you so much for your time, for being part of this, and for opening up to me! It’s been a blessing meeting you all!

It makes me feel so awesome that I was some sort of inspiration for change, to have a positive effect on  a tv network, and for the first time dedicate a whole hour to athletes who happen to have a disability or different abilities and highlight stories THAT SHOULD BE HIGHLIGHTED MORE AND MORE!

PLEASE CHECK THESE OUT AND SHARE THIS BLOG POST! Everyone should hear these powerful stories because it will motivate you to do more and simply inspire you!

Special thanks to #LATV and #americanlatinotv!

Dustin Shillcox

Published on May 17, 2016
Guest host, Tamara Mena talks to Dustin Shillcox about the “wings for life” world run by red bull.

 

 

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Adaptive Sports and Recreation Association and adaptive soccer:

Published on May 17, 2016
Guest host Tamara Mena, meets the men and women organizing ASRA’s adaptive soccer games in San Diego.

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The World of Chairskating:

Published on May 17, 2016
Guest host Tamara Mena is intruduced to the world of chairskating through the stories of two very young athletes.

 

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Adaptive Athlete Misty Diaz

Published on May 17, 2016
Guest host Tamara Mena meets adaptive marathon runner Misty Diaz.

 

 

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Apaptive Surfer Jesse Billauer talks about “Life Rolls On”

Published on May 17, 2016
Guest host Tamara Mena meets up with adaptive athlete Jesse Billauer, who tells her about his story and the mission of “Life Rolls On”.

 

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The World Of Adaptive Basketball

 

Published on May 17, 2016
Guest host Tamara Mena is introduced to the world of Adaptive Basketball.

 

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Blind Marathoner Jason Romero Runs Across The Country

Published on May 17, 2016
Our guest host Tamara Mena talks with blind marathon Runner Jason Romero before he starts his record-setting cross country run.

 

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From Facing Discrimination to Creating “See Me For My Talent” Campaign!

I have faced discrimination and stumbled upon many prejudgments in the world I have been surrounded in, especially as a model and host in a wheelchair, primarily centered on beauty and good looks and often times made feel like I am simply not good enough… But I’m using these negative experiences for something positive because I don’t want other young people to have to face this…

Sure, the fashion and entertainment industry can be quite superficial, and disAbility isn’t often seen and it has been really difficult for me when people haven’t even given me a chance to show my talent, simply because of their prejudgments and limitations they are imposing on me. “If I don’t limit myself, don’t limit me, just because I have to go around in life in a wheelchair” is what I want to tell them! In this day in age, it has blown my mind to see that sadly this IS happening. But at the same time, this means more because it isn’t easy, this is making me stronger, I have thicker skin now after all I’ve gone through, after all the rejections.

For me life is no longer about being an inspiration or that I’m recognized for my story… (although having the opportunity to be of  inspiration or motivation to people is something I cherish) but I want to be known for my talent and I want for people to give me a chance, to hire me. And so many of us, that’s what we want, to not be defined by our disability, much less limited and just be part of society, integrated and hired for different positions that we’re very capable of performing.

I was down one day and feeling frustrated after I was discriminated upon a few times very close to each other, and then thought of a young girl, an 18 year old, talented and driven, but who might just want to give up, like me at times, if not given the right chance to even show her talent. I thought of that and just said, I don’t want young people ahead of me who have what it takes to shine, and have to go through this, to not be given equal opportunities only because of their abilities, only because of their physical condition or because they happen to need a wheelchair to get around… This is not okay. I have to do something to try to change that! Which is why I am creating the Campaign, “See me for my talent.” For people to say, “see me for my talent, not my wheels or any visible ‘limitations’ you might see.” This is not about me. I want people to take a stance for their own talent and/or for people to support this effort because we cannot be discriminating because of someone’s physical abilities. But people need to hear about this, know this is even happening! The creation of this campaign is to advocate for a community that is often disregarded, but also for anyone who isn’t given a chance or taken seriously as a professional only because he or she may be different.

We have to give people a chance. It’s not about someone doing us, people with disabilities, a favor by hiring us or incorporating us in a team or organization. It’s about seeing the different talents we ALL have and incorporating those with an open mind. We need more REAL INCLUSION. Inclusion for me is NOT just sharing stories of people with different abilities on tv or magazines here and there (although all that awareness and exposure is indeed very important!) but it takes far more than that, it takes creating real opportunities, jobs, etc.

I want to challenge anybody who is reading this to yes, be more open minded, but also be open to diversity, in all of its forms and, change, make a proactive change that shows you support this, that you get it. If you are in fashion, then not just “include” but hire models that are different, in wheelchairs, with walking aids, plus size, transgender, you name it all of the above!

People with “disAbilities” are not and should not be just used as charity. If you are a producer, make more roles that can include people with different abilities or just be open to an actor in a wheelchair taking a role that wasn’t perhaps designed for a wheelchair user, but just think “why not?” And give that person the chance to prove his or herself. In general, for any employer out there, be open to what someone with a “physical limitation” or difference can do.

Don’t disregard us or pass us because you never know what we are capable of doing, until you’re willing to see. But that’s why you have to see us for our talent, not limit us by our wheels etc. You might just be surprised. If we show up to the audition, the job interview etc, I think that’s pretty telling of how serious we are and that we believe in our potential. So if we do, why shouldn’t you?

Why do any of this? Because we exist, we are all part of society and the more we see this everywhere on runways, in ads, on TV, public service jobs, etc, the more representative of this world we become, the more people you will impact in a profound way, I guarantee that.

If you would like to be part of this campaign please contact me, send me your info, from whatever industry you’re in and what change you’re willing to make. We are all and should be more equal. We all can improve; we all can become more inclusive, more diverse.

Please, I am looking for sponsors to get this campaign and its message out there.  The goal is to break stereotypes, sure but even more, to inspire change in people and organizations that can create real opportunities for many of us who’ve struggled in finding those. Please let me know if you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this campaign.

But we also need for people to just hear about this, to know this is happening, so I ask for everyone to please share this!

I hope I can pave the way for others. I hope people become less judgmental and more open minded. I hope people can see people who are different, people who might have a disability, a different ability (as I see it) for who we are, for our talent, and give us a chance to show how talented we are despite going around on two wheels or despite any physical “limitations” we might have. You might be surprised about how strong we are and that our limitations don’t limit us, but instead just means we can highlight other abilities. That’s all! Be the change you want to see! #betheuplift #bethechange #empowerothers #helpothers #seemeformytalent #notmywheels #mywheelsdontstopme #belimitless #limitless #beunstoppable #showtheworldwhatyougot #youaretalented #differentispowerful #differentisbeautiful #embraceyourdifferences #ownyourpower #innerbeauty

 

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What happens when fashion sees disABILITY and someone who doesn’t give up! -Tamara Mena hosts at Fashion Week LA!

Fashion, for many is their passion, their life. For others, the fashion industry might seem as superficial. In this world, it is very typical to find perfect looking models, long, lean, great bodies, people who all around seem to “have it amazingly together,” and usually full abilities. You don’t expect to see people in wheelchairs […]

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Modeling at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week- One of the best of 2015!

  For many of you who are used to seeing me smiling, as I always am, and with a more natural look perhaps, I know this is a look that you might not recognize me in, but let me tell you it is absolutely one of my favorites and without a doubt, a favorite HIGHLIGHT […]

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Powerful letter to Kylie Jenner by a model who’s in a wheelchair!!

At first glance what do you see in these two pictures? Two girls in a wheelchair, is right. I’m the model on the right. Some might not think much of it, but let me explain how much different these two pictures are:   Kylie, you chose to use a wheelchair, to pose with it, when […]

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About “Beauty on Wheels” -beauty and fashion segment Tamara is hosting on LATV!

Tamara shows us some style by the sea at Night by the Ocean! Check out our site! ► http://latv.com/life Tamara recently stated about Beauty on Wheels “I am SUPER EXCITED to share that I am the ‪#‎host ‪#‎presenter of a fashion and beauty segment on LATV (Latino Alternative Television Network)! The name of this segment […]

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Tamara Mena In The News: Recent Articles and Videos

Important videos: RED BULL VIDEO ENGLISH SPANISH Demo Reel MOST INSPIRATIONAL LATINA OF THE WEEK Spinal Cord Injury SURVIVOR On Mundo FOX American Latino TAMARA MENA MODELS IN NEW YORK FASHION WEEK ARTICLES Tamara backstage video First Latina Wheelchair, New York Fashion Week US People Washington Post 17 disabled Models who should be on Vogue […]

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

“We have met amazing people in a 1000 shows; but there is one person, I will never forget… That person is Tamara Mena. She is the biggest example of survival I have met.” –Pablo Motos, Producer and TV host of Spain’s most popular TV Show, El Hormiguero. “You’re such an inspiration. Thank you for being […]

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Embrace YOU Project

Embrace You Project Know, Accept, and Embrace Yourself About the Embrace You Project: It is dedicated to help women Know, Accept, and Embrace who they are. The journey of this project begins at the end of 2010, as I started thinking of ways to encourage women to help them embrace who they are further than […]

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