When I started the blog two years ago, I was quite disappointed by the reaction I received from those I had shared the link with. No-one said anything negative but the word they used to describe the blog made me uncomfortable very comfortable if I may say so. The word was “inspirational.” At the time I found myself getting angry at this but I just could never understand nor explain why. The more people I shared the blog with, the more people said it was inspirational. Oh boy at this stage I was so over it.
I then decided I wasn’t going to share the blog with anyone else, in fact from then on I blogged in secret. I would post on the blog but unless a person had followed the blog, they wouldn’t have a clue that I was blogging. I didn’t share any blog posts on social media. A year after starting the blog I came across a TEDx video that would explain what I felt.
My intention when I started the blog was never for it to be an inspirational one where when you are feeling down or going through a hard time, you come on here, read then feel inspired. Absolutely NOT!!!! That was not, is not and will NEVER be the intention. The purpose of the blog is to “change the perception of disability one reader at a time.” That’s what this blog is about. 18 months after I started the blog I decided to share the link on Facebook and I am glad that the reception was much different than the first time ie people are not finding the posts inspirational but rather challenging. Anyway back to the TEDx video. It was by Stella Young (may her soul continue to rest in peace) who was a writer, comedian, advocate and the editor of Ramp Up, an online space for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia.
To date it is the most amazing TED talk I have ever watched. She spoke so well and put into words everything I couldn’t articulate even to myself. Please watch the video below. It’s worth every minute.
This video was so perfect in every way and I won’t take anything away from it by adding my two cents. I will simply share some of my favourite points.
- You might have seen the one of a little girl with no hands drawing a picture with her pencil held in her mouth…these images are what we call inspiration porn….They objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people and in this case we are objectifying disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people. The purpose of these images is to motivate you, inspire you so that you look at them and think however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person.
- I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been approached by strangers wanting to tell me that they think I am brave and inspirational and this was long before my work had any public profile. They were just kinda congratulating me for managing to get up in the morning and remember my name. These images objectify disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people. They are there so that you can look at them and think that things aren’t so bad for you, to put your worries into perspective.
- Life as a disabled person is actually somewhat difficult. We do overcome some things but the things we are overcoming are not the things that you think they are. They are not things to do with our bodies. I use the term “disabled people” quite deliberately, because I subscribe to what’s called the social model of disability, which tells us that we are more disabled by the society that we live in than by our bodies and our diagnoses.
- We’ve been sold this lie that disability makes you exceptional and it honestly doesn’t……I think this lie we have been sold about disability is the greatest injustice. It makes life hard for us. and that quote “the only disability in life is a bad attitude”, the reason why that’s BS because it’s just not true because of the social model of disability. You know no amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever turned it into a ramp, smiling at a television screen isn’t going to make closed captions appear for people who are deaf, no amount of standing in the middle of a book shelf and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into braille.
- I want to live in a world where we don’t have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning. I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people.
If you’re unable to watch the video, you can read the transcript here. It is worth the time.
Yes I have a disability but no I am not your inspiration. I have not done nor do I do anything extra-ordinary, I simply do things differently from everybody else and that is in no way exceptional or inspirational. Celebrate me and call me an inspiration the day I have done something worthy of that, till then please remember these words I AM NOT YOUR INSPIRATION.