I’m Not Your Inspiration Porn!!

preventsodor

Let’s talk a little bit about “inspiration porn.” If you don’t know what that is yet, and you clearly have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard that phrase, Wikipedia gives us a matter-of-fact definition. The term inspiration porn was coined by people with disabilities, used to describe when they are called inspirational solely or in part on the basis of their disability.

I’ll be the first to admit that it never occurred to me that it was inappropriate to think someone was a hero for living day to day using leg branches and/or crutches. Somehow or other that always looked so painful to me that I couldn’t imagine having to use them every day. (There’s a possibility I might get leg braces, and I must say I’d rather walk the way I do or use my wheelchair full-time.) But when it came to me, I never wanted people to make a fuss over my disability–I would have tried to pass as close to able-bodied if I could, and I usually could. I had friends over a number of years, who didn’t know I had spina bifida (they may not have realized I was disabled at all).

I used to feel sorry for people who were more disabled than me. Wheelchairs never really bothered me. In fact, when I saw people in “cool” chairs or in sports wheelchairs, I envied them. They could do more than I could, not because they were disabled, but because they had the tools they needed to make it happen.

Oddly enough, that changed as I lost function and started using my wheelchair more often. I’m your inspiration? Hell, no! I’m doing exactly the same things you do every day. I might need some adaptations, but I’m still doing it. That doesn’t make me any kind of hero or inspiration. The adaptations only help me do the things regular people do every day.

These are the attitudes that make it difficult for temporarily able-bodied people to envision us being able to work at a regular job, just like them. It’s hard for them to believe that people with disabilities even leave their houses to do grocery shopping or other chores that others do.

I wanted to close this chapter with a quote from Jerry Lewis about his MDA telethon.

“I’m telling people about a child in trouble! If it’s pity, we’ll get some money. I’m just giving you facts!”

“Pity? [If} you don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in ya house!” Jerry Lewis, CBS News Sunday Morning, May 23, 2001

I’m going to share Stella Young’s famous TED talk about this topic. She’s much more literate than I am about it. I’ll never be your inspiration porn!

 

 

 

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About lana1967

I'm a Southern girl at heart who wants to build a community of people who believe they can change the world with words like "love" and "freedom" when they become more than words, but actions in our work and our daily lives.
This entry was posted in communication, disability, relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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