An Australian business owner that posted what was described as offensive video mocking people with disabilities has apologised after wiping the footage from her Instagram page, saying "I am devastated and horrified that my video upset people".
South Australian-based beauty brand Cosmetic Cartel posted a video last week showing two women carrying out an what advocates described as an offensive skit.
The women can be seen walking in a way that people said mimicked those living with certain health conditions, prompting one advocate to speak out against similar "harmful" material online, which was described as "outrageous".
Offensive skit lashed by disability advocates
After an onslaught of comments calling on the business to remove the content, eventually it was pulled down, though it remained a major talking point on social media, where people continued to express their disappointment.
Aussie disability advocate James Wood, who is also a wheelchair user, said the footage was a tough watch.
"Disappointing to see this," Wood told Yahoo News Australia. "As a person with disability (PWD) it’s hard enough to deal with the day to day challenges that disability presents. So to see able-bodied people mocking or making fun of PWD is a bit of a slap in the face!
"Even more so if it was done to promote a business or something that has no relevance to disability at all."
Wood, who just months ago spoke to Yahoo about the long list of traumatic experiences he's experienced when travelling on planes, said he wishes people could spend a day in the life of those living with disabilities.
"I wish there were some way for these people to spend even one day with the challenges that a PWD faces, maybe that would make them think twice about posting this type of material," he said.
Business owner 'devastated' video caused offence
Speaking to Yahoo, Courtney from Cosmetic Cartel said she offered her unreserved apology to any offence caused.
"Firstly, I would like to apologise for any offence that I have caused as a result of my video," she said.
"It was never my intention to do so and I am devastated and horrified that my video has upset and offended people. My only intention in posting the video was to jump on a recent and popular TikTok trend.
"As part of this trend, other online videos of themselves walking like zombies 'to avoid abduction' or 'avoid being kidnapped at night'. It was certainly not my intention in any way to mock or impersonate people with any form of disability.
"Whilst the video was a completely innocent attempt at humour, I now understand how it could be misinterpreted. As soon as I became aware how some people had understood the footage, I immediately removed the video.
"As a carer myself, I am aware of, and empathetic to, challenges faced by those with disabilities on a day-to-day basis and will continue to educate myself about those challenges moving forward."
The business owner continued to explain she had "been the recipient of significant online harassment".
"Whilst I accept full responsibility for the video, the online attacks have had a very detrimental effect on my mental health," she said.
Over four millions Australians living with a disability
In Australia, roughly one in six Aussies live with a disability — some four and a half million people, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Additionally, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 35.9 per cent of Australia’s 8.9 million households include a person with disability.
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