Michelle is a cosplayer who creates inventive and sometimes funny cosplays often highlighting her one arm. The teacher and self-proclaimed nerd says she always had a love for wearing costumes, whether it be for Halloween or in-classroom lessons, and cosplay became a natural extension of that.
"Disability, or limb difference specifically, is so rare in in the media that I get pretty excited when I come across a character who either loses an arm or wears a bionic hand," Michelle told ABC via email. "It's so refreshing to see bodies like mine represented, and I like to honor that in a fun way through cosplay."
Two of Michelle's cosplays that recently received super acclaim were her Deadpool and Winter The Soldier costumes, which she showed off at New York Comic Con. The cosplayer brilliantly incorporated The Winter Soldier's metallic arm, and channeled Deadpool's penchant for ridiculousness with her costume of the character.
Aside from these Marvel favorites, there are several characters who Michelle is eager to cosplay, like the lead heroine from Mad Max: Fury Road.
"Furiosa! I'm working on that with a friend," Michelle told ABC. "Right now I'm working on Green Lantern's Boodikka ... many of the suggestions were for characters who are missing a hand, but I also want to cosplay as characters who aren't necessarily disabled. For my first con, I was Catwoman and didn't highlight or hide my disability at all."
Michelle isn't just getting viral fame from her elaborate costumed-characters cosplays: A video of her trying out a new bionic hand from Prosthetics in Motion and SteeperUSA's BeBionic is pretty awe-inspiring to watch.
"There are no dolls or princesses who look like me, but there are many young girls and boys who do," Michelle told ABC. "Those kids (and adults too) who look a bit different deserve to see themselves represented in movies and on TV and online."
Michelle, though, commented how people and characters with disabilities still face social stigma, and that she wants to craft her own narrative with her costumes.
"We as a culture are fed this narrative that disabled people fit into one of two categories: either sad and deserving of pity or inspirational and superior to able-bodied people in some way. I fit neither of those descriptions," Michelle told ABC. "I'm just a girl who loves superheroes and movies and dressing up. The thing that strangers assume is my biggest weakness happens to be one of my biggest strengths."
"I hope that anyone who sees my pictures and videos, whether disabled or able-bodied," Michelle says, "learns to not only accept but also embrace the qualities and features that make them different."
You can see more of Caitlin Michelle's cosplays at her blog and Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.