How Vlogging Is Empowering a New Generation of Stutterers

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Four years ago, Matice Ahnjamine filmed her first vlog. Ahnjamine, gorgeous in red lipstick and box braids, stands against a monochrome background and introduces herself to new viewers. “Welcome t-t-t-t-to my YouTube channel,” she says. “As you can ssssee I stutter, and that is why I wanted to start this YouTube channel.” Over the next five minutes, she describes how most of her life she felt alone until, at twenty-eight, she met another person who stuttered. It was exhilarating to encounter someone who spoke with “long pauses” and “made these crazy faces like me,” and now she wants to offer that same sense of connection to other people through her videos—to let us know we’re not alone.

I can imagine what Ahnjamine’s channel might have meant to me had it existed in those early, uncomfortable years of accepting and defining myself as a person who stutters. I had no role models to look to, and all the depictions of disfluency I saw came refracted through able-bodied performers in movies and on television—actors who wore disfluency as a costume. I only heard impressions of stutters, never real ones; I knew only characters who stuttered, not people.

This is still the case for most nonstutterers, whose points of reference for disfluency are usually either works of caricature or inspiration porn. The disclosure of my disfluency is sometimes met with invocations of scripted films: Oh, like The King’s Speech? like The Waterboy? like A Fish Called Wanda? But these are scripted stories, anchored by people pretending to talk like me. In these films stuttering is a dramatic obstacle, a tragic flaw, a character-defining challenge. Ahnjamine’s videos, on the other hand, give first-person insights into the experience of disfluency and impart that stuttering is what we do, not who we are.


Screencap via Matice Ahnjamine/YouTube



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