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Instagrammer aims to break down disabled stereotype

Joseph bird taking a selfie with his top off
Joseph bird taking a selfie with his top off Image credit: birminghammail.co.uk

A man born with cerebral palsy who was told he would “never walk” is now trying to break the stereotype that suggests disabled people can’t be attractive…And he’s doing it on his feet!

When Joseph Bird was born doctors thought we would never be able to put one foot in front of the other, but he has proved them wrong.

The 28-year-old, from Solihull, has not only taught himself to walk, run and jump – he is also a former Paralympian rower!

Bird is now uploading sexy pictures of himself on Instagram to prove that "disabled people aren't strong or attractive".

He told BirminghamLive: "I've had to do physio from a very young age so exercise has always been a part of my life.

"But from the age of 16 I took it upon myself to push myself. I realised if I combined physio with work-outs that I could achieve more progress.

"I set myself goals and learnt that I needed to do specific exercises to help me reach them.

"My cerebral palsy predominantly affects my left side of my body so the strength on that side wasn't equal. By training, I started to balance that out.

"I started off with a lot of machine exercises because free weights would have been too high-risk. As I progressed, I started to do bigger weights and I do heavy free weights now."

Bird was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby after being born three months early.

Struggling with body dysmorphia growing up he started sharing his work-out videos on Instagram during the first Covid-19 lockdown – he now has over 222,000 followers.

He said: "When I was a boy, the doctors said they thought I wouldn't walk.

"Obviously, I can walk. I've recently achieved a goal of walking backwards. I couldn't do that before the lockdown. I also couldn't jump without falling on the floor but I used my free time in the lockdown to learn to jump and land successfully.

"I walk differently and I run differently but I'm very independent and I'm fitter than most people now - my parents can't believe it.

"I was very nervous to put myself out there because I haven't always been confident in myself. It really put me outside my comfort zone.

"I didn't know what response I'd get. Even now, I get the odd negative offensive comment, but 99.9 per cent of it is amazing and it means I can get my message out there.

"I'm trying to challenge the stereotype that disabled people are weaker and not attractive. There's a huge stereotype with disabled people never being sexualised and it's a taboo subject that no one talks about.

"I feel strong and attractive. I'm disabled and I'm proud of it."

The videos have worked wonders encouraging disabled people to follow in his energetic footsteps.

"I get messages from people with disabilities all the time," he said. "Not just from parents of children with cerebral palsy but from people with an array of disabilities.

"They say 'I was feeling really down but you've made me feel more positive about my disability'

"I had one recently saying 'I'm disabled and I've gone to the gym today because of you'. That was one of my favourites."

Joseph Bird's next goal is to fight in a disabled boxing match and to have children.