Why my Google search of ‘Sexy Autism’ was a big Disappointment!
By Jenny Palmiotto
Many of you might wonder why I would do a Google search on ‘sexy autism’. While the old proverb claimed, “Curiosity killed the cat”, with Google, the only think that’s killed is my curiosity…basically, I Googled it because I could. It’s what got me thinking about ‘sexy autism’ that’s more interesting. As I created the line up for this year’s Love & Autism conference, I realized that it’s filled with role models in the autism community. Yet, not enough in mainstream media know about them. I’ve even spoken to parents with autistic children who are unaware of some of the pioneers in the autism community…the ones with autism!
So how do people become well known…how does one become an icon? While hard work, talent, a strong voice, and a powerful message are all hallmarks of a great icon, I would be remise if I didn’t acknowledge the power of sex and beauty that helps someone to reach icon status. Despite our misgivings about this fact, sex still sells. So… why doesn’t the autism community have any sex symbols? Where are the Zac Efron’s and Patrick Dempsey’s of ASD?
My first sign that my Internet search of “sexy autism” was going to yield disappointment was when word predict could not come up with what I might be wanting to search. Even with “Sexy Autis.” Google failed to predict the rest. It’s as if no one has ever combined these two terms until now.
Once searched, I was perplexed by most of the images, as they had little to do with autistic sexiness. Rod Stewart in his underpants made the first couple images, as did Katy Perry and Channing Tatum. I get it, they are sexy, but no link to the autism community. As you might expect, some of our celebrities with children with autism made the top of this search—Tony Braxton and Holley Robinson Peete. We have a few beautiful and sexy women that have been brave enough to let the world know that they are on the autism spectrum: Heather Kuzmich and the ever-sexy Daryl Hannah. Google shows the talented, Diane Kruger, who plays a detective with autism on the Fox show The Bridge (character development by Alex Plank).
Now, some of you are thinking that it’s degrading to humankind to objectify both men and woman for their beauty. Looking at sexy celebrities in the media is likely bad for self-esteem and might derail a young mind’s development of healthy beauty expectations. Part of what makes this unhealthy is many of these ‘sex’ symbols are idealized, unobtainable version of what sexy ‘should’ be. Therefore, part of the problem is not being shown versions of real sexy. We need to have celebrity sex symbols that are more like all of us.
Here’s a few guesses as to why people with autism are not portrayed as sexy:
- Autism is often thought of as childhood disorder (sexy and childhood certainly don’t go together). Googling searching for images of “Autistic” prove this assumption, as the large majority of pictures on this page are of children.
- People have a hard time understanding that autistic adults are as diverse as neurotypical adults. Within the autism community, there are classically sexy people as well as those with average looks and everywhere in between.
- The media is more interested in portraying the disease model or defective model of autism. So sexy disease doesn’t really sell. Boo on this one, as this highlights mainstream media’s limited understanding of autism.
- People bash those with celebrity that identify as on the autism spectrum disorder. As if someone with celebrity status could not possibly have autism. Examples include Daryl Hannah and Dan Akroid.
I should note that I truly believe that self-worth comes from within and I do not whole-heartedly agree with our societal value in outward appearances. Even still, I’d love to see a sexy autistic face grace the covers of Vogue and People Magazine or earn instant fame with social media. Many of America’s sex symbols are given a wide platform to share their beliefs and values with the world and afforded infinite opportunities to change societal views. So here is hoping the world notices a few people that are Sexy & Autistic.
Here are my top 5 sexy and autistic:
Clay Marzo (Pro-Surfer)
Sexy & Sweet
(Classic Good Looks)
Pictured with sister, model Jacquelyn
Sexy & Cool
Alexis Wineman (Miss Montana)
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