Nyle DiMarco is Empowering His Community by Embracing His Uniqueness
What makes someone uniquely inspiring?
Is it their generosity, being true to themselves, their determination and focus, how they help others, or maybe it’s succeeding through adversity? Any of those could do it. Now imagine someone who’s doing all of them.
Meet Nyle DiMarco.
The many people that already know about Nyle, will know him for winning America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) in 2015. He’s also recognized as only the second male model to win, and the first Deaf contestant ever on the show. Since then, he’s signed with a major modeling agency in New York.
But Nyle’s talent and drive goes way beyond modeling.
He’s also an actor, with past roles in Switched at Birth, the independent film In the Can, produced by American Sign Language Films, and comedy series Difficult People.
Then Nyle showed off his dancing talents on season twenty-two of Dancing With the Stars, which he won with professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd in May 2016.
At this point, it could be somewhat easy to dismiss these achievements based on his good looks, and the possibility that’s he’s a natural dancer, explaining his appearance on Dancing with the Stars.
But this is only part of Nyle’s story.
Embracing His Uniqueness
Nyle was born into a multi-generational Deaf family – his brothers, his parents and grandparents have all lived full lives without the sense of hearing. In fact, over twenty-five of his family members are Deaf, and he and his brothers are part of the family’s fourth generation.
So, Nyle comes from a family where being Deaf wasn’t completely unusual. He has people around him that understood his needs and could guide him.
But for much of the world Nyle stands out for being Deaf.
That’s definitely not Nyle’s perspective. In fact, in his bio on his website, it states, “Deafness amplifies his natural talent. His Deafness is an asset and not a limitation…” We couldn’t have said it any better.
Nyle has publicly shared that he identifies as sexually fluid. We’re including this information, because, embracing our uniqueness isn’t about one specific thing. It’s about living an authentically genuine life, and making it yours.
That’s exactly the example we see in Nyle.
Activist for the Deaf Community
Recently, Nyle started the Nyle DiMarco Foundation. Its objective is to improve access to accurate, research-based information about early language acquisition – specifically, the bilingual education approach – with a current focus on Deaf children and their families.
Here’s one of the important videos Nyle shares on the website.
It’s estimated that there are around seventy million Deaf people worldwide. The majority of these people, around 98 percent, lack adequate access to quality education in sign language, and a staggering 75 percent of parents with Deaf children do not communicate to their child in sign language.
At every turn of his journey, Nyle has included his Deafness as part of the conversation, aware that his achievements are not just for his own personal gain, but to demonstrate to other Deaf people that the sky is the limit. There’s no holding back.
With the foundation’s website, he’s sharing important messages and information. Nyle signs in one of his YouTube videos, “Growing up I had immediate access to language input. That is the main reason for my success today. Most of all, don’t lose hope.” He also emphasizes to parents that have just discovered their newborn baby is Deaf, “Don’t change your expectations for your Deaf child.”
Nyle has also partnered with Ink & Salt to create two specific ASL digital resources, including the ASL App to teach conversational ASL to anyone who wants to learn, and the first ASL stickers to come to the Messages app on iOS.
We’re Not Alone in Recognizing Nyle
Of course we’re not the only one to recognize Nyle and his work. There are various articles and videos about him all over the internet. There’s one that really caught our attention.
President Bobbi Cordano of Nyle’s alma mater Gallaudet University, a liberal arts Deaf college, was one of the first to acknowledge his accomplishments as well as the alumni that have gone before him. Speaking about Nyle, Bobbi says:
Through his tremendous success on the runway and participation in Dancing With the Stars, Nyle DiMarco follows in the footsteps of numerous Gallaudet University alumni who have shown that Deaf people can achieve any dream. Admirably, he has seized this moment to advocate for full and equal early access to language for Deaf and hard of hearing children through bilingual exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) and English. I wholly endorse his commitment to guaranteeing full access to language.
The university has been a leading proponent of Deaf rights, having provided education for Deaf and hard of hearing students for a century and a half, pushing them to reach for the stars and to see their abilities as different and unique rather than an obstacle that sets them back.
Clearly, Nyle knows what a good support and education system can do for Deaf children, and it makes a lot of sense he’s advocating for them.
We Can Change the Narrative
Society has a way of trying to limit us at times. But we can turn that narrative on its head, and create a new one.
We believe everyone should celebrate their uniqueness, and truly express themselves. Because whatever makes us different can be fuel to make a positive mark in the world, and we’ll live a life we love.
Just look at Nyle. He’s doing it.
Why do you think our uniqueness matters? Or do you have a story of how you learned to embrace your uniqueness?