A reader and fellow limb difference mom (hi Kristin!) sent me the following TedTalk by a woman named Stella Young, entitled Inspiration P*orn and the Objectification of Disabled People.
If you have the time to watch I'd urge you to do so. Stella really hits the nail on the head. The basic premise of her talk is that disabled people are often objectified by non disabled people in various forms of media as examples of "inspiration" aka "inspiration p*rn." Here are some of my favorite quotes from her talk.
"For lots of us disabled people are not our teachers, our doctors, or our manicurist...we're not real people. We are there to inspire.... I'm not here to inspire you. I'm here to tell you we have been lied to about disability. We've been sold the lie that disability is a bad thing... And to live with disability makes you exceptional. It's not a bad thing. And it doesn't make you exceptional."
"I've lost count of the number of times I've been approached by strangers wanting to tell me they think I'm brave, or inspirational...and it is objectifying."
"Life as a disabled person is actually somewhat difficult. We do overcome some things. But the things that we're overcoming are not the things you think they are. They are not things to do with our bodies....We are more disabled by the society we live in than we are by our bodies and diagnosis. So I have lived in this body a long time, I'm quite fond of it. It does the things I need it to do. I've learnt to use it to the best of it's capacity, just as you have."
"I want to live in a world where we don't have such low expectations of disabled people that we congratulate them for getting out of bed in the morning."
I recognize that I have been guilty of this myself. Both in the past and even with my daughter at times. We're still newbie's in this disability world and when she first used her feet to write I was quite amazed and surprised and I wanted others to be amazed as well! That being said, I am definitely understanding this whole idea a lot better now--of course she uses her body differently and it's really not a big deal. However at times I do hype up her differently-abled body to other children as I'm explaining her limbs (She doesn't have an arm, but she can write with her feet! Isn't that cool?). I don't think it's bad to be inspired by someone--disabled or not--but I think her greater point is that this type of thinking is what holds disabled people back from doing other things with their lives that they are completely capable of because the rest of the world expects so little from them. As a mom I'm always going to think my children are amazing, wonderful, smart and special. But I think that of ALL my kids. And it can be difficult when people want to single Lamp out and shower her with praise and attention for well... just being Lamp. At the same time, I'm always glad to see her received with love and kindness. I've actually got a post in the making about this very thing. So more thoughts to come.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this talk. Do you objectify disabled people? Unintentionally or otherwise? Is it wrong to be inspired by people with disabilities? Do you use other people's disabilities as a way to make yourself feel better? Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the correct ways you're supposed to be sensitive to every minority group? Ha! It can be hard to be so AWARE all the time. Also, remember the Scope ads I talked about last week?