Melissa Blake Is Disabled and Pleased with It

It by no means fails: Each time I point out how I am proud to be disabled, folks react with a mixture of awe and utter shock.

“How will you ever be proud to be disabled? Nobody would ever truly need to be disabled, would they?”

I maintain encountering these phrases and reactions — time and again and … over. It is as if they can not think about a extra nugatory, less-fulfilling life to stay.

Sadly, it is a notion that’s recurrently bolstered by society and the way it views disabled folks. I used to be born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a uncommon genetic bone and muscular dysfunction, so I’ve heard all of it my life: Disabilities are unhealthy, one thing to be feared, and disabled persons are “lower than.”

Once I was younger, I discovered myself internalizing loads of these messages, particularly as a youngster. I felt unworthy and continually in contrast myself to my non-disabled friends. However as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown extra self-confident in my disabled physique. And that new sense of confidence — and, sure, pleasure! — have helped me turn into an activist, pushing again in opposition to ableism and all these dangerous, outdated narratives about what it is wish to stay with a incapacity.

There are such a lot of issues I might like society to learn about folks with disabilities. There are such a lot of stereotypes, even in 2021, and these misconceptions are extremely dangerous. Listed here are 4 truths I want everybody knew in regards to the incapacity group.

We’re not right here to be your inspiration. You could have heard of the time period “inspiration porn.” It was coined by the late Stella Younger, a comic, journalist and incapacity rights activist who lastly put a reputation to those condescending, objectifying depictions of disabilities. The time period describes the portrayal of disabled folks as inspirational solely due to their incapacity. It is these “feel-good” tales you see about disabled people who primarily exist to make non-disabled folks say, “Aww.” However these tales make disabled folks say, “Eww.”

These tales are dehumanizing and demeaning. My disabled life would not exist to be your inspiration. Disabled persons are simply making an attempt to stay our lives in an ableist society that wasn’t constructed for us. People who find themselves “so impressed” as I’m going about my each day life? I promise that I’ve accomplished way more fascinating issues than go to the shop. I hate to interrupt it to you, however I am not making an attempt to make an announcement each time I’m going to Goal. More often than not, I am simply going to feed my journal dependancy.

So, please, suppose twice the subsequent time you need to share that article a few excessive schooler with Down syndrome going to the promenade.

Go forward … say disabled. I’ve by no means understood why persons are so afraid to say the phrase disabled. You’d suppose it was truly a foul phrase with how cringeworthy they make it out to be. Individuals typically carry out feats of phrase gymnastics making an attempt to provide you with a euphemism, as in the event that they’re doing us a service by utilizing these code phrases. In actuality, it is insulting and patronizing. Disabled is just not a foul phrase. Please, no matter you do, do not say “otherwise abled.” Do not say “particular wants.” It is DISABLED.

Actually, the incapacity group has been very clear about how dangerous and condescending euphemisms are … LISTEN TO US.

Illustration issues. Everybody needs to see themselves of their favourite books or TV exhibits. It offers us a way of belonging and makes us really feel as if we matter. Disabled persons are no exception to this. And but, we’re not often represented within the media. And once we are? Properly, see my dialogue above about inspiration porn. Now greater than ever, we’d like genuine storytelling relating to disabilities. That implies that disabled tales must be written by disabled writers, and disabled characters must be performed by disabled actors. It is that easy.

Disabled folks need to be handled with dignity. Actually, I can not imagine I’ve to remind folks of this in 2021, however apparently I do. Disabled persons are simply that — folks. We deserve the identical love, respect and rights as non-disabled folks.

Being disabled is a part of my id and at all times will probably be. Talking up about ableism is likely one of the biggest joys of my life; my hope for a brighter, much less ableist future is the explanation I proceed to be so seen and vocal, particularly on social media — to teach, to stomp out ableism and, sure, to clap again at ignorant web trolls. Perhaps sometime, we’ll stay in a world the place I am not seen as “different” and “lower than.”

Till then, please take your cue from the incapacity group. In any case, disabled persons are the very best advocates and those who’re the specialists. An sincere and open dialog relating to disabilities is rarely wasted and, fairly frankly, it is best to by no means be afraid to ask questions on disabilities.

As you’ll be able to see, disabled folks like me are very happy to clear up any confusion.


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