The problem with Inspiration Porn

Sorry to disappoint but this is nothing to do with porn, no nakedness here šŸ˜‰

The term inspirational porn was coined by disability activist Stella Young (I have attached her Ted talk at the bottom of this post, read it. It explains the issue much better than i ever can) in a nutshell it describes a person who is seen as inspirational solely on the basis of their disability usually for carrying out simple everyday tasks. It is a very difficult term to explain as it raises many different issues, too many to explain in one blog post. It is also subjective, one person may find something offensive that another might not. Everyone is different, even disabled people. Each disabled or disfigured person is different, have different views and opinions- shocking I know!!

I have always hated being called an inspiration by strangers, when I was youngerstrangers used to come up to me in the street and tell me how inspirational I was. They didn’t know me, all I had done was walk down the street. That isn’t inspirational. They were making assumptions about my abilities and life without knowing anything about me. It made me feel uncomfortable and I found it very patronising. I was being objectified.

inspirational.png

Praising me or a disabled person for going to school, having a job, dong every day things assumes that people with disabilities or in my case disfigured are capable of much less than ‘normal people’. If someone genuinely achieves something amazing then I have no problem with the inspirational label but get to know a person first, hear their story don’t just assume by looking at them.

The athletes that take part in the Paralympics or Invictus games are inspirational as they have trained for years and are the best in their field, they are doing something that is not only challenging for disabled people but also for able-bodied people. They aren’t just inspirational for turning up on the day and smiling in their wheelchairs, they are achieving something.

We are not here to inspire ‘normal’ people, to look at me and think well if she can do it so can I implies that I am some how inferior and if IĀ can do it thenĀ is obviously very easy.Ā It diminishes and belittles my achievements and how hard I have worked to get there. I went to college, I obtained a degree and masters in law neither of which were easy. I interned in Washington DC and have had 11 jobs in the last 6 years (during a global recession), this was not easy for me and would not be easy for a ‘normal’ person either.

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Im not here to make someone else feel better about the deal they have been dealt or remind you that it could always be worse. You are assuming that my life is somehow worse than yours or unbearable, that is not true i have a great life, it is different but no less than anyone else’s.

Stating that a positive attitude can overcome anything is also damaging, I know that it has been proven that have a positive attitude helps people recover after accidents and illnesses but not everything can be achieved by being positive. Believeing that i am going to wake up with a normal face does not make it happen. Being positive is not going to help someone in a wheelchair get up a flight if stairs. It diminishes a person’s struggle and implies that it is not ok to not cope, to complain or ask for help, everyone complains and everyone finds life tough, why cant a disabled person? Ā It makes people who dont seem to be coping as well as others feel guity.

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Another type of inspirational porn are the memes or stories that praise ‘normal’ people for somehow being kind to a disabled person. I have seen many stories from America about disabled people being invited to prom but instead of speaking to the person with the disabiity or discussing disability they all focus on the able-bodied person who invited them to prom like they are taking on some kind or hardship and being selfless by inviting this pityful disabled person!! The disabled person is to be pitied and needs help. Or the stories which praise the partners of disfigured people for standing by them despite their disfigurement, this is patronising and implies that the disfigured person should be grateful because someone is interested in them.

As I previously said if people that know me or know what i have been through and achieved want to call me inspirational that is fine because they are making a judgement after they have gottenĀ to know me as a person not purley on my face. Ā I do realise that people who call myself or disabled people inspirational are not trying to be cruel but it is enforcing a dangerous stereotype. A stereotype that says that disabled or disfigured people are to be either pitied or put on a pedestal but not never equal.

 

I have attached Stella’s Ted Talk below.

 

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