The silhouette challenge is the latest online trend that has users transforming for sultry videos complete with a signature red filter.
One standout take comes from Nila, a 22-year-old student born with a rare condition called Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy. She explained to BuzzFeed News how her disability has impacted the movement in her muscles.
“I’m able to walk, but for only a short distance and with help such as my walker or someone holding my hand," she said. "My wheelchair comes into play to help me travel long distances as well as be more independent.”
In her TikTok, which has now been viewed more than 500,000 times on Twitter, Nila takes on the challenge and features her wheelchair. "Just because I am disabled doesn’t mean I can’t be sexy," the college junior said. "I can be both disabled and sexy."
“Most people feel disabled people are less attractive, not desirable, or labeled as ‘weird’ for just being disabled," she added. "I wanted to challenge that through this challenge. Why do I have to choose my disability or my beauty when I can have both? Doing this challenge gave me the courage to break down a barrier and show that disabled people can be whoever they want to be. There shouldn’t be any shame about it.”
Nila, who lives in South Carolina, shared how her disability has impacted her life in a “positive way” and pushed back against negative perceptions.
“Although I may have my challenges, I never felt it ‘ruined’ my life or made me ‘suffer.' People try to make me feel my disability is a curse, but it’s not. It’s my norm, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world,” she said.
The responses online have been largely positive, Nila said, who also noted that she has received praise from other young people with disabilities.
“I had many disabled people who told me that me doing the challenge helped them feel comfortable with showing who they were on the internet and doing the challenge," she said. "That made me happy because I want to help other disabled people feel comfortable about showing who they are without being shamed or bullied for it.”
Even with the outpouring of support, Nila acknowledged that there had been some negative comments from people she described as “closed-minded.”
“I got called a demon from sleep paralysis, people were saying I injured myself, I made the challenge worse, and so many other negative comments. As hurtful as they were, I had to realize the reason why I did the challenge and be proud of the courage it took because I may have helped inspire [people], disabled or nondisabled, to never be afraid of being who you are and to always live for you,” Nila said.
The journey to becoming a confident Black woman with a disability has itself been something Nila said she has struggled with until recently.
“It wasn’t until last year I had to realize that I can be disabled and beautiful," she said. "My disability isn’t the enemy; it’s society's standard and ableism. I always try to find ways to embrace my beauty and my body because I’m proud of it. I’m finally happy to say that I love all of me. I call myself a 'Queen on Wheels' because God created a Queen and made sure she had a rolling throne.”
Nila has been hailed online for her take on the challenge.