20 Latina Celebrities And Icons You Didn’t Know Had Disabilities
In the disabled community, the word “disabled” has been reclaimed and used to show community, strength, and love for the diversity of disability. “Disabled” is an umbrella term that includes those who are physically disabled and those who may have physically undetectable illnesses such as mental illness and autoimmune diseases. Not everyone who has a chronic illness or mental illness identifies as being disabled but they are valid in their experience and will always be supported by the disabled community.
Here are 20 Famous Latinas who you may or may not know are disabled!
1. Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek is a household name all over Mexico and The United States, but what isn’t usually known about her is that she is dyslexic. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes reading difficult. Diagnosed in her teens, Hayek did fairly well in school in Mexico citing that she was a fast learner which could of been the reason it took so long for the school to realize she was dyslexic. After leaving the National University of Mexico to pursue her dreams in Hollywood she realized her dyslexia and the language barrier of not knowing English would be a problem. Nevertheless, she pushed through thanks to movie scripts like “Frida,” broke through in Hollywood and was able to find ways to make script reading easier by taking her time with them even if it meant being a slow reader. She now speaks about her experience as a Latina with dyslexia to show it’s possible to succeed regardless of a learning disability.
2. Michelle Rodriguez
The Dominican/Puerto Rican Fast and the Furious is known for being a badass on and off screen with acting, writing and directing. But when she’s not hustling she’s speaking up about having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and advocating for Latinos with invisible disabilities. Being in film and beginning a career in writing and directing she found it a challenge because she found it difficult to focus and scatterbrained. While others with ADD choose medicine (a perfectly fine thing to do) Rodriguez felt that way wasn’t for her and instead focused on ways to keep herself in control of her brain. She is constantly educating people about her disability and working dismantle the stigmas associated with Latinos with invisible disabilities in Hollywood but also outside it.
3. Gina Rodriguez
Known for her fierce and positive character Jane from Jane The Virgin, Rodriguez is if not more fierce and positive than her character Jane. The Puerto Rican actress has been working on reflecting that positiveness when dealing with her hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease. Hyperthyroidism is an overproduction of hormones from the thyroid which Rodriguez was diagnosed with at 19 years old. Hashimoto’s Disease is a disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid, Rodriguez was diagnosed at 26 years old. Feeling overwhelmed with the problems that come from both illnesses (weight gain, memory issues, fatigue, anxiety) she decided to spend years ignoring her health issues. But once she made a name for herself thanks to Jane The Virgin and taking high dose medication for her thyroid, she began to experience debilitating panic attacks. After hitting rock bottom she decided to take control of her life by changing her diet to fit her health problems, lowered her dose of medication and focused on improving her overall mental and physical health. Now managing her health, she’s working hard on movie projects and showing that even celebrities are like us and have to work on their health.
4. Demi Lovato
This one shouldn’t be a surprise as the powerful half Mexican/Irish has been vocal about having Bipolar Disorder since being diagnosed in 2011. After years of dealing with eating disorders, drug addiction and cutting, the diagnosis of her being bipolar gave a little insight of what was happening and a way for her to manage every to her best abilities. Since then she has been thriving in her health and her activism by giving back to the community of those who deal with mental illness. During her most recent concert tour she had free mental health counselling available for all of her fan. As she shows the positive aspects of getting diagnosed, getting help and maintaining her bipolar disorder, her new song “Sober” which was released on June 21st, showed that after 6 years of sobriety she had replaced and that having mental illness is a complicated thing to mange. She’s working on recovering again but her humanity and being open about her disorder is helping others open about their illness and seek help.
5. Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez has always been an extremely hard worker from her days acting on the children’s TV show Barney & Friends to producing the controversial Netflix Original “13 Reasons Why,” she’s never backed down from a challenge. Especially since the one challenge, this Mexican/Italian has dealt with since 2012 was being diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is an inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack itself. Gomez announces via instagram that her lupus had put her in a life or death situation resulting in her needing a kidney transplant. Thankfully her best friend and fellow actress Francia Raisa was able to give Gomez her kidney and save her life. Since revealing the details of problems her lupus has caused, donations flooded into the Lupus Research Alliance from fans in support of their favorite actress. Gomez’s willingness to speak up about her health has shed light on an illness often ignored.
6. Bella Thorne
If you’ve been following this Cuban/Italian actress since her Disney Channel days, then you will have remembered the commercials Disney ran of Throne talking about her struggles with Dyslexia. Since Disney, Thorne has been killing it in starring in movies, directing movies and most recently writing her own book series Autumn Falls. Growing up with dyslexia was difficult for her since having to leave school in third grade to focus on acting. During an interview with Harper Bazzar, she says “I just felt so fucking stupid. It was really hard for a long time because I was always told I was stupid girl.” when her dyslexia made it difficult to read scripts. But because of the same scripts, she was able to improve with her reading and writing and now today thriving in an industry that isn’t so friendly to invisible disabilities. Throne shows no signs of slowing down and her dyslexia is the least of her worries now with her career.
7. Camila Cabello
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has a wide range of how it affects people. For this Cuban singer, her day to day experiences of obsessive thoughts and urges is something she’s learned to laugh about in order to handle it. She told INSIDER magazine “I get really stressed thinking about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it.” While having OCD can be stressful and challenging, Cabello has cited having a good support system of family and friends who point out when she’s getting stuck in thoughts has been a way to help her have a sense of control over it.
8. Camila Mendes
While the CW’s Riverdale star has been turning heads with her performance, the Brazilian star is also being a voice for those who have dealt with eating disorders (ED) just like her. Opening up on text Instagram post she revealed her struggles with ED and offered support for those in a situation like hers. Growing up she was obsessed with being thin and being in an industry that vales thinness over realistic body types, that added. Mendes has been able to deal with her ED and has now begun working on bringing awareness to how ED can happen and what we can do to help. She offers resources and support via Instagram to fans, and those in the industry like hers to seek help and no they are not alone.
9. Jessica Alba
The Mexican American mother/actress and entrepreneur has been open about her life on social media on how she raises her kids, what she eats and more recently that she lives with OCD. In an interview with CosmoGirl, she said “I used to unplug every single appliance in my house. Or I’d double-check every door in my house to make sure it was locked at night.” After it got to the point where she felt out of control, Alba began working on herself and getting support from family to take her OCD head on. Jessica Alba doesn’t speak much anymore about her OCD but we know she’s thriving with the support of family and friends.
10. Frida Kahlo
While the famous Mexican artist was known for challenging gender norms, her provocative art, famous marriage to Diego Rivera, and her accident, most people tend to ignore that she was disabled. Frida Kahlo was involved in an accident when she was young that left her with chronic pain. Because of her chronic pain, she used mobility aids such as wheelchairs and canes to give her the freedom to explore the world around her. Her art and writings are saturated with her experiences living with chronic pain and mental illness. In 2006, long after her death, an autopsy of her body showed that she possible was born and lived with Spina Bifida, a defect of the spine.
11. Eva Longoria
In 2013, Eva Longoria opened up on the Dr. Oz show that she became severely depressed after dealing with her two year public divorce to ex husband Tony Parker in 2011. Expressing that she wasn’t aware she was depressed at first, she just knew that facing life again as a single woman was going to be difficult. Always striving to keep an upbeat attitude, she didn’t categorize herself as being depressed, just sad. She assumed she would just move on eventually, but it wasn’t until she had a doctors appointment where they recognized her depression was affecting her physical health. Since then, she’s been focusing on improving her diet along with acknowledging her depression and seeking help with it.
12. Patricia Navidad
The Mexican singer who rose to fame when she was 17 after winning the Miss Sonola Beauty Contest has battled with bulimia and anorexia for a long time. Never opening up much about it nor of her health issue with a brain tumor, Navidad has reminded focused on health, happiness with her family and her singing. Along with making us laugh at her witty comebacks to trolls on the internet.
13. Mariah Carey
The Afro-Venezuelan/Irish singer learned in 2001 that she had bipolar II disorder. After opening up to People Magazine about her fears of losing everything if people found out, she lived for years in denial and isolation. She later began therapy and wanted to share her experiences of managing her bipolar disorder as a way to hopefully end the stigma that comes with having mental illness. Her openness has lead to other celebrities such a Chrissy Teigen to open up her struggles with postpartum depression.
14. Ana Bárbara
The Mexican singer confirmed in via Twitter in March of 2011 that she has been dealing with anorexia and depression for years and was receiving treatment in Spain. After receiving help in Spain and not speaking much after about it, she has relocated to the United States and lives with her children.
15. Christina Aguilera
The half Ecuadorian singer known for always turning heads with her music has always been vocal about mental illness and her struggles with depression. The first time in the public eye she opened up about the realities of mental illness was with her iconic song “Beautiful”. That song began a dialogue about her own mental illness and dealing with depression since she was 12 years old. Her goal since the release of that music video has been to have people understand that no one chooses to be depressed, it’s something they can’t help. But support and access to help are what can benefit those who live with depression.
16. Jennifer Lopez
In her published tell-all book “True Love”, the Puerto Rican actress/singer expressed she dealt with severe anxiety that left her sleep deprived and caused other health issues. A lot of anxiety because triggered by her divorce from Marc Anthony, she felt consumed with worry about what was happening to her. Expressing that she felt so scared, a type of fear that you can’t even scream. Currently, she calls herself a W.I.P, which stands for “a work in progress”. She is still learning and growing on how to manage her anxiety.
17. Gloria Estefan
The iconic Cuban American singer endured an accident in 1990 that left her with a broken back and almost paralyzed from the waist down. With the help of doctors, they were able to put metal rods in her back and she’s since made a remarkable. Her experience with having a spine injury has led her to fund and find cures for paralyzation resulting from spine injuries. She consistently takes part in the Buoniconti Fund event that is a part of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
18. Eva Perón
Eva Perón was known as Argentina’s First Lady and has been more popularized by the Broadway musical Evita which chronicles her rise to fame. In 1950 Perón was diagnosed with advanced terminal cancer. She underwent a hysterectomy and chemotherapy but her cancer persisted and began deteriorating her body. It is also rumored that she underwent a lobotomy to help ease the pain but also as a political tool from those around her to calm her “erratic anger” she dealt with. Regardless, her cancer took a toll on her mental and physical health up until her death.
19. Linda Ronstadt
The legendary Mexican/German singer had a long and rewarding music career in many genres. But in 2011 she announced her retirement with the reveal that she has Parkinson’s Disease. Because of the disease, she is no longer able to sing a note. While it’s been tough not being able to sing out loud, she has been content in where her life is at now, citing she still sings in her head and keeps a sense of humor about everything.
20. Cameron Diaz
The well-known half Cuban actress has been dealing with OCD for quite sometimes. She has for a long time been open and honest about her OCD and how it has affected her life. She has said it’s lead her to constantly cleaning doorknobs so hard that she has taken the paint off of them. She has been in therapy to help and is constantly working to manage her OCD.
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