Victoria Facelli: A local superwoman wearing many capes
A mom, writer, and lactation consultant advocating for inclusion
When we think of superwomen, we usually think of the iconic cape-wearing Marvel character. We also probably think of bada** women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman, who made a significant mark in history. Serena Williams probably comes to mind — because of her extraordinary talent, and well, she has an eight-pack. And maybe Alicia Keys, because of her hit song "Superwoman" from 2007.
Superwomen come in all different shapes, sizes, and skin colors, and they have several professions. Most fly under the mainstream radar, making a difference without media coverage, sponsorships, or accolades.
They are doctors making sure their patients get the care and treatment they need. They are teachers taking the time to tutor a student. They are CEOs, artists, athletes, nannies, and volunteers. They work in grocery stores, work in hospitality, work in homes, and work for the government. They are women we encounter in Durham every day, wearing multiple capes to get the job done. They are mothers, friends, queer women, sisters, and daughters.
Victoria Facelli is one of Durham's superwomen wearing multiple capes. She is a postpartum doula turned writer and lactation consultant who aims to support other parents and Durham's queer community. She's also super in the way she loves herself and her family and in the way she advocates for her clients, her community, and her daughter with cerebral palsy.
Victoria's daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy early on. Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is usually caused by a problem that affects the development of a baby's brain while growing in the womb, prematurely, or during and after birth.
"I look at Durham with new eyes now that I am a mama to a 2-year-old. She is all curls and laughter, whip-smart, and cooler than I'll ever be," said Victoria.
For the last ten years, Victoria has lived in Durham. She loves this city and advocates for this city to accommodate everyone – especially her daughter.
"Navigating the built world and social setting of a progressive, historic town that is growing faster than I can keep up with is totally different through the lens of disability," said Victoria. " Our underfunded and charmingly bumpy sidewalks keep wheelchair users from being able to get around. Durham Parks and Recreation works tirelessly to upkeep about 56 local playgrounds, only a few of which are accessible to kids with disabilities."
Morreene Road Park is Durham's first and only inclusive playground. Victoria wants funding to keep it in good condition, and she hopes that eventually, all the parks in Durham will have a universal, more inclusive design. She is also advocating for public school Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and school boards to fight for the funding and inclusion of education for kids with disabilities, Deaf kids, autistic kids, and others who receive Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
"If children go to a school where some students can't access the entire school and not all the children can play on the playground, then those children will never know their disabled peers by name—that's a problem. Disability is part of diversity, and our schools still default towards segregating disabled students. We need all parents to fight for kids with disabilities to be able to play and learn with other kids," said Victoria.
Victoria is on a mission to make a better Durham for everyone, her daughter included. When asked what makes Durham beautiful, Victoria said, "I love the people of Durham. The rich Black and queer history makes it feel like home. I go out to coffee on Black Wall Street and bump into artists and activists I love. I will always remember going to vegan brunch at the first queer bar I ever set foot in on my way to a drag queen storytime."
Victoria is also proud of Durham's Jewish For Good center (formerly known as the Jewish Community Center), because they built their building and all of its programs with diversity and universal design in mind. She hopes other Durham establishments and businesses will prioritize inclusivity as well.
"The fact that my non-binary spouse can take my disabled kid to the bathroom in the JCC almost brings me to tears," Victoria said.
Keep an eye out for Victoria's upcoming book, an inclusive non-fiction guide to feeding babies under Countrymen. You can also follow along with her superwoman life on Instagram at @victoria.facelli.iblclc.
To all of Durham's superwomen, wear your capes and do what you do. It matters. Alicia Keys says it best, "I am a Superwoman. Yes, I am. Yes, she is. Even when I'm a mess. I still put on a vest. With an S on my chest."