Disability: It’s not a Bad Thing and it doesn’t make you Exceptional

An awesome talk from Stella Young, an Australian comedian and activist:

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve been approached, by strangers, wanting to tell me that they think I’m brave or inspirational. And this was long before my work had any kind of a public profile. They were just kind of congratulating me for managing to get up in the morning and remember my own name. (See the transcript.)

Stella doesn’t like the way that disabled people are used as “inspirations” for others –

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.

But the things that we’re overcoming are not the things that you think they are. They are not things to do with our bodies.

A neat demonstration of how disabled people — especially those with disabilities you can see, and perhaps especially women — get a whole lot of assumptions made about them. It’s assumed that their physical experience is something awful that they’ve had to overcome. How brave they must be to live in a body that we could not imagine living in.

But it isn’t that different, there is no us and them.

So I have lived in this body a long time, I’m quite fond of it, it does the things that I need it to do and I’ve learnt to use it to the best of its capacity, just as you have.

It’s about using our empathy with other people to see their lives and problems and successes as they see them, not as they may appear from the outside. For Stella, the challenge isn’t her body, but managing people’s expectations of it.

Thanks to Debra for sharing the video.

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