Steffi G on the Empowering Side of Disability
Steffi G will never let her disability hold her back from following her dreams.
"I don't like being scared. If there's something that angers me in life, it's having a fear," she shares with People Chica.
Born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Steffi has been defying expectations ever since doctors in her native Colombia told her family she only had 24 hours to live.
Now, at 33 years old, the content creator has dedicated herself to fostering a more inclusive world, taking matters into her own hands on Instagram and TikTok with her beauty-focused content that enlightens her audience about the daily realities of living with a disability.
"I made a pretty significant shift from trying to fit into a world that didn't include me. I had a really difficult time advocating for myself, and making myself fit into the norm had physical and health repercussions for me. One day, I finally woke up and I said, this doesn't work," she shares.
Apart from her own content, Steffi has modeled for Aerie as one of their ambassadors and is now a Sephora Squad Mentor after being a part of the squad herself from 2022-2023.
Read on for her exclusive interview with People Chica, where she gives us a peek into her social media journey, how she's advocating for other people with disabilities, and how her disability intersects with her Latinidad.
You were named a Sephora Squad member for 2022-2023. What did that opportunity mean to you?
Sephora has always held a special place not only in my heart but in the way that I see the beauty industry. Ever since I got to this country, I gravitated towards Sephora.
Applying was something that I was doing for myself. I worked up the courage to apply, and that was enough for me. Everything that happened afterwards was an absolute roller coaster of emotions.
It's opened my eyes to how hard the beauty industry is working towards being inclusive of all of us. It's taught me that more brands are ready to be more inclusive.
As a beauty lover and influencer, what are some of your favorite brands at the moment, especially brands that you think are doing things right in terms of inclusivity?
I am a huge fan of Lancome; they can do no wrong by me. Their foundation changed my life. In skin care, I think there are a few brands that are doing wonderful things like Glow Recipe.
Sephora, from a corporate and marketing standpoint, is so serious when it comes to accessibility. There are [other stores] I can't even go into. My chair doesn't fit because there's so much merchandise. But even my local Sephora [...] supports and cares about things like that.
Recently, you've branched out into more Spanish-language content. What drove you to become a more bilingual creator?
I started getting a lot of comments from people wondering where I was from, and I remember I looked at my husband and said, "Oh my god. People don't know I'm Colombian." English was my second language, but people didn't know that.
There's a lot of disability communities out there that are in Latin America and I realized I'm not gathering the attention of those communities because I was not inviting enough.
So that's where I started trying to ramp up the content in Spanish so that people at the very least feel comfortable asking me questions—I wanted to be inclusive.
The Latino world, in some aspects, is struggling to keep up with inclusivity, especially when it comes to disabilities. What changes do you think are necessary for more acceptance?
I think that the Latino community is still very hooked on and gravitates towards the standard of beauty. When they see a disabled Latino creator or model, perhaps they don't celebrate it the same way.
I've been wanting to make my way towards Latin America, to be that introduction, whether you like it or not, you need to know [disabled people] exist.
I think perhaps some brands, their executives, and whatnot, maybe got spooked at the initial reaction in the Latino community to change, but they need to be persistent with it and stand their ground. This is the world we live in, we're being inclusive and we're gonna move forward.
What advice would you give young disabled Latinas who look up to you as a creator?
Thank you, first of all, for thinking of me as [an] inspiration, but let me be that sign that you were waiting for. More than looking up to me, you need to look in the mirror.
It's hard to draw all of your inspiration from other people, so while I may be initially the inspiration, I need you to look in the mirror and find that inspiration in you, because that's the way I did it.
Your differences, your disability—that's what's going to make you stand out in a positive way.