This gorgeous woman ‘shaking her body’ onstage will change your perception of cerebral palsy

When Maysoon Zayid took the stage and began shaking her body, the crowd went wild. But it’s not what you’re imagining.

Appearing at TEDWomen, a three-day conference about the power of women and girls to be creators and change-makers, Zayid appeared and spoke about her experiences living with cerebral palsy. She explained to the audience that due to the neurological disorder, her body shakes involuntarily. Check out the whole inspiring (and hilarious!) video below:

Zayid explains that cerebral palsy is only due to accidents. She was born with cerebral palsy after being suffocated during birth. Zayid goes on to break down stereotypes about disabilities using humor. She says, “I got 99 problems, and palsy is just one. If there was an oppression Olympics, I would win the gold medal. I’m Palestinian, Muslim, I’m female, I’m disabled, and I live in New Jersey.”

Zayid goes on to say that while many people with cerebral palsy don’t walk, she learned to do so thanks to her father, who would place her heels on his feet and just walk. She adds that he would also dangle a dollar bill in front of her so that she would be motivated to catch it. “My stripper instinct was very strong,” she says here, to uproarious laughter from the crowd.

Zayid thanks her parents for inspiring her sense of determination and ambition. They reinforced the notion that she could do anything, which gave her the confidence she needed to pursue her dreams, which included tap dancing on Broadway, learning yoga and becoming a stand-up comic.

maysoon zayid photo
Getty Images | Bryan Bedder

As a comic, Zayid has performed all over the United States, as well as in Arabic in the Middle East, and she even started her own comedy festival. She eventually became a full-time contributor on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

But it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. Zayid shares how once she became a regular on TV, she regularly read cruel comments about herself from viewers online. She also calls out Hollywood for not hiring actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities. “People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world, and we are the most-under-represented in entertainment,” Zayid declares.

Still, she’s seen many of her dreams come true. She expresses gratitude for the many amazing experiences and accomplishments in her life, but says, “The one moment that stands out the most was when I got to perform for the man that flies like a butterfly and stings like a bee, has Parkinson’s and shakes just like me, Muhammad Ali. ” She says this was the only time that her father got to see her perform live, and she dedicates her TED talk to his memory.

She concludes her powerful talk by saying, “My name is Maysoon Zayid, and if I can can, you can can.”